Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 3, 2012

Bums drop finale

TC hosts S. Illinois in playoff opener on Wednesday

BY DENNIS CHASE
dchase@record-eagle.com

TRAVERSE CITY — It was Fan Appreciation Day at Wuerfel Park on Sunday.

Apparently no one told Road Warriors pitcher Tyler Vaske.

The right-hander gave Traverse City fans little to cheer about, pitching one-hit ball through 6.1 innings, as the Road Warriors beat the Beach Bums 6-1 in a Frontier League regular season finale here. Vaske was working on a no-hitter until Kyle Colligan singled to center with one out in the seventh. He was pulled after the single.

"I was able to throw strikes with my fastball," the 22-year-old said. "I didn't have much off-speed stuff working, but I was able to spot the fastball well."

Vaske earned a nice round of applause from Beach Bums fans when he left the game.

"They kept reminding of the no-hitter throughout the game, trying to jinx me," he said, smiling. "They wouldn't let me forget about it. It was nice, though, to get the applause afterwards. Great fans out here."

Traverse City finished the regular season as champions of the East Division with a 64-32 record, 37-14 at home. The 64 wins set a team mark and is tied for the third most in league history.

The Beach Bums secured the No. 1 seed in the playoffs last week. They'll host Southern Illinois on Wednesday and Thursday in the best three out of five series. Games 1 and 2 start at 7:05 p.m. Game 3 is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. on Saturday.

"It was an unbelievable 96-game season for us," manager Gregg Langbehn said. "Consistent. We've got nothing to hang our heads over after one loss. I feel the same way today as I did the other 95 days."

Brooks Belter (10-3) suffered the loss Sunday. He was charged with five of the six runs in four innings on the mound. Belter, who was 7-1 at home, pitched seven shutout innings in his last start.

"He got out of his zone," Langbehn said. "He didn't have it."

The Road Warriors scored one run in the first, two in the second and three in the fifth.

Traverse City finished with three hits. Doubles in the ninth by Jose Vargas and Jeff Flagg accounted for the lone run. Jared Christensen relieved Vaske and finished it out. The Beach Bums were never able to get good swings at Vaske (2-2).

"I was fortunate," he said. "They have a phenomenal attack."

Vargas tied a league RBI record with 100. Ryan Still set the league record for walks with 110. As a team, the Beach Bums walked 455 times, another league mark.

"It's been a lot of fun," Langbehn said. "But now it's time to move forward. The next season starts Wednesday. At this point, every team is good, every team deserves to be in it. You have to be ready to go."