TRAVERSE CITY — The Beach Bums picked up right where they left off last regular season, drawing tons of walks.
Traverse City added nine to its season total of 26. River City came in Tuesday’s games with 30 to lead the league.
Ryan Still drew two of those — and now has six in four games, despite teams knowing he set the league record last year for bases on balls.
“Ryan saw a lot of fastballs against Joliet, because they know what he’s going to do,” TC manager Gregg Langbehn said. “His knowledge of the strike zone is so good. It’s a credit to him: He doesn’t waver, he doesn’t change. Once in awhile, he’ll try a sneak attack on guys in a 2-1 count if they groove him a fastball and he’ll swing at it, just to change up the pattern.”
Backup catcher Chris Cowell and first baseman Chase Burch are also adding to the walk parade.
Burch has always walked a lot and worked four bases on balls already this year, while Cowell has six in just two games and 10 plate appearances.
“It’s going to be a different team than last year,” Langbehn said. “I think we’ll have a little better contact, but I don’t know if the power numbers will be there.”
Through four games, Cowell and Still each have six walks, with Marcus Nidiffer and Burch four each and Scott Woodward three.
“Everybody struggled this past weekend, but I thought the way we played on Sunday, we’ll be able to turn it around,” Woodward said of TC’s 6-2 win over Joliet to avoid being swept. “As long as the top two or three guys get on base, the other guys should be able to hit us in, and that’s all we’re aiming for.”