TRAVERSE CITY — Ever have Otter Pops as a kid?
Well, it was just about cold enough to make them Thursday at Wuerfel Park.
With game-time temperatures in the mid-40s, the Evansville Otters swept the Traverse City Beach Bums 4-1 and 6-5 in a doubleheader of seven-inning games made necessary by Wednesday’s rain-out.
The league didn’t even bother putting the attendance in the opening-game’s boxscore as it usually does. No wonder, considering there were only around 100 devout fans who braved the cold. Attendance for the second game was listed as 1,922.
“The schedule said we had to play,” TC manager Gregg Langbehn said. “I don’t think it could be much colder. But they had to play in the same conditions.”
Matt Crim (1-1) allowed six hits and two walks in the second game, but Traverse City (2-4) was able to muster just one run on a third-inning Chase Burch RBI single that brought in Scott Woodward. Burch and Taylor Wrenn had two hits each and the rest of the Bums’ lineup had two.
“Offensively, we’re just a little sluggish,” Langbehn said. “We’re just not getting the runs. I don’t care about the hits; we have to find a way to produce runs. That wasn’t always an issue for us last year — we just did it. This year we’re been a little slow out of the gate.
“Pitching-wise, we’ve got a few things to work on as well. Walks are hurting us. (Johnny) Omahen in the second game, three walks scored. He knew that. I told him, ‘When the wind is blowing in in this ballpark, don’t walk people and you’ll be fine,’ because it’s going to take three hits to score. But when you factor in walks, you’re asking for trouble.”
Omahen (0-2) pitched his way into trouble in the fifth, walking the first two batters. Both of those would come around to score in a three-run frame that put Evansville (3-3) up 4-1.
Bryce Morrow, who played in Traverse City during the 2011 season, knew that and tried to keep the walks down.
“It was one of those days where I knew I was really going to have to pitch,” Morrow said. “It was cold out, and you never know what your velocity is going to be on a day like this, so I was trying to find my spots with the fastball. Once I got warm a little bit, it got a bit easier. Since I played with some of these guys, I knew what I wanted to do against them. But most of them are tough outs, too. Today was a good day to pitch. A couple of those balls got squared up and got knocked down (by the wind). On a day like today, you just try to fill up the (strike) zone and know the conditions.”
Morrow (1-1) gave up seven hits and four walks in 6.1 innings, but Traverse City wasn’t able to capitalize.
“That’s the way it’s kind of been so far,” Langbehn said. “It’ll work itself out. I’m not too worried about it. ... I’m still pretty sure nobody won the division yet.
“We had opportunities. We just didn’t cash in.”
In the opener, Nick Schwaner put the Otters up 2-0 with a first-inning homer to right field. The Bums responded with a Burch RBI to bring in Ryan Still.
Evansville tacked on four more in the fourth, ending Jacob Clem’s night. He finished giving up six hits, one walk and six runs in four innings and striking out three to drop his record to 0-2.
Ryan Kresky’s two-run double and RBI hits by Steve Marino and John Schultz put the Otters up 6-1.
Traverse City added one run in the sixth on a Wrenn RBI single to score Sean Gusrang.