TRAVERSE CITY — Aaron Baker’s first professional start produced his first victory Sunday evening.
The Gateway righthander, who was 0-2 with a 4.32 ERA in seven relief appearances, allowed two runs on five hits in seven innings as the Grizzlies stymied the Traverse City Beach Bums 4-2 at Wuerfel Park.
Zac Treece pitched two perfect innings of relief, striking out five, to secure the win, ending Traverse City’s four-game win streak.
“That was good in so many ways,” Gateway manager Phil Warren said. “We’re riddled with injuries, mostly in our rotation, and Baker stepped in and gave us a chance to win, which is all we ask of our starters.
“We had just enough offense, we played good defense and Treece came in and shut the door. It was a good formula.”
Baker surrendered a solo home run to Chase Burch in the second inning. In the fifth, Sean Gusrang doubled and scored on Scott Woodward’s single. Other than that, Baker was in control.
“I stayed ahead of a lot of hitters,” Baker said. “I like to mix speeds, try to force contact early. That was my game plan today.
“Other than the one home run, and the one inning they hit a couple good pitches, I thought I had everything working pretty well.”
Beach Bums manager Gregg Langbehn agreed
“He pitched great,” Langbehn said. “We couldn’t eliminate his pitches. He had four pitches going. That’s the way it goes. This is the first time in several games we haven’t had many (scoring) chances.”
Baker only threw 86 pitches, 56 for strikes.
“He was starting before we (signed) him,” Warren said. “We love his stuff. Honestly, we were projecting him to start for us next year. Injuries forced our hand with him. He did a good throwing strikes, eliminating walks, and we made a couple of plays behind him. Hopefully, he can continue to give us good outings.”
Beach Bums starter Mike Devine cruised through the first four innings before the Grizzlies broke through. A two-out, bases-loaded double by Jose Flores drove in three in the fifth to give Gateway the lead.
“Great situation, great pitch — fastball up the middle — big opportunity to hit the ball,” Flores said.
Gateway added a solo run off Chris Squires in the eighth on an RBI single by Jet Butler.
Devine (5-2) allowed three runs on five hits in six innings of work.
“I thought he pitched well,” Langbehn said. “He just left a pitch up (to Flores) and he didn’t miss.
“But he’ll have that one inning that bites him. He’s fought that all year.”
The loss left Traverse City at 44-30, 1.5 games ahead of Lake Erie in the Frontier League’s East Division. Lake Erie beat Joliet 10-4.
The teams wrap up the three-game series tonight with Scott Dunn (13-0) pitching for the Beach Bums and Edison Alvarez (0-1) for the Grizzlies.