TRAVERSE CITY — Not long after the temperature dipped and a steady rain began to fall, Sunday’s Frontier League showdown with Florence got away from the Traverse City Beach Bums.
It’s also about the time that Florence third baseman Jacob Tanis began to heat up.
Tanis slugged two home runs, had six RBIs and scored three times, spearheading a burst of nine runs over the final four innings as the Freedom took down Traverse City 10-4 at Wuerfel Park in the first of three games between the top two teams in the East Division.
“It was a nice team effort. We had a lot of guys on base today. We had a lot of big hits and great pitching,” said Tanis. “The two top teams in the league going at it. We really came together offensively and defensively, so it was a great team win for all of us.”
The Beach Bums were leading 2-1 when things went south, starting with an infield single by Alijay Davis and followed two batters later by Tanis’ first homer — a two-run blast with two outs that put Florence ahead for the first time.
Traverse City went back in front in the bottom of the sixth as Chase Burch and Carlo Testa slugged back-to-back solo shots, but that lead lasted only until the top of the seventh when Byron Wiley led off the inning with a solo homer of his own that tied the game 4-4 and got Traverse City starter Scott Dunn pulled from the game. Dunn, who entered the contest with an 11-0 record, was looking to set the franchise record for career wins but ended up with his second no-decision of the season. In six innings Dunn allowed four runs on six hits and struck out four.
Matt Miller (0-2) came on for Dunn and ended up getting tagged with the loss when he hit Junior Arroyo with a pitch to start the eighth inning and Arroyo scored the go-ahead run on Jeremy Hamilton’s RBI single. The Freedom plated five more insurance runs off Beach Bums reliever Burny Mitchem in the ninth, four coming on Tanis’ two-out grand slam. Two walks and a hit batter loaded the bases and set the table for Tanis to add to his team-leading 47 RBIs — good for third in the Frontier League.
Steve Matre (2-0) only pitched one-third of an inning, but ended up getting the win for Florence. Matre came on in relief of Jason Wilson, who gave up two runs in the first three innings, but settled down and retired eight batters in a row at one point. Wilson allowed seven hits, four runs and struck out four.
Three of the Beach Bums’ runs came via the long ball as Scott Woodward hit his first homer of the year in the third. Burch drove in Traverse City’s other run, knocking home Jose Vargas with a two-out single in the first.
“Unfortunately it didn’t go the way we wanted it to,” said Burch. “That’s how it goes sometimes. We didn’t pound the zone and they took advantage.”
The loss trimmed Traverse City’s lead to two games heading into Monday’s contest.
“It means a lot,” said Tanis. “We just wanted to try and come out here and make a statement, get this first game and get back on a roll. We’ve been up and down a bit since the start of the second half. It was nice to get this one.”
Burch agreed that the series is important, though he didn’t place any special significance on the three games that started this week’s six-game homestand.
“Every series is really big, especially when guys are battling with us for first place,” he said. “Every one from here on out is going to be huge. We’ve got to try and win every one of them.”
Johnny Omahen will take the mound for Traverse City (37-24) in tonight’s game. Chuck Weaver is the scheduled starter for Florence (35-26).