Traverse City Record-Eagle

Sports

December 28, 2013

Top 10: Bums reach playoffs, say goodbye to key players

TRAVERSE CITY — A good regular season.

A post-season that came up short.

An off-season that’s seen some key players depart.

The 2013 calendar year proved to be a rollercoaster ride for the Traverse City Beach Bums, making it our No. 5 story of the year.

The Beach Bums led the Frontier League’s East Division most of the summer. An August swoon — capped by a six-game losing streak — and losses in two of three games to Lake Erie in the regular-season series finale put them at 55-41, a game out of first when the dust settled. Still, that mark put Traverse City into the four-team post-season.

The Beach Bums were eliminated by Lake Erie in five games in a tightly contested first round playoff series. Traverse City was leading the series 2-1, and had leads in games 4 and 5 — they were just seven outs away from the league’s championship series with a 3-1 edge in game 4 — but couldn’t close the deal and Lake Erie went on to lose to eventual champion Schaumburg in four games.

Nonetheless, manager Gregg Langbehn was upbeat about his fifth season at the helm of the team.

“I thought it was another great success,” Langbehn said in the days following his team’s final game. “I thought we played very well. We were consistent. We weathered the losing streak in the middle of August because we had played so well up until that point. It afforded us the luxury of having a streak where we didn’t play as well. Overall, I was pleased. Just fell a little bit short.

“It was a great (playoff) series with Lake Erie. We had the lead late in the last two games and we just couldn’t finish. That’s all there is to it.”

The Beach Bums were active in the first three months of the off-season, trading first baseman Chase Burch, closer Nick Capito and No. 1 starter Mike Dunn. Those three were among the team’s six Frontier League All-Stars — starter Jake Sabol, infielder Taylor Wrenn and catcher Marcus Nidiffer were the others. Burch tied for second in the Frontier League with 66 RBIs, batted .264 and slugged a team-leading 15 homers. Dunn led the Frontier League in victories, finishing 15-1. He also became Traverse City’s all-time leader in victories and strikeouts during the season. Capito led the squad in saves during the year with 17 and had a team-best 0.71 ERA.

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