By JAMES COOK firstname.lastname@example.org
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Alan Oaks, Aaron Dudley and Johnny Omahen were teammates in the Miami Marlins organization.
On Friday, they faced off — and Omahen had one of his best outings of the year.
Omahen held Normal scoreless for seven innings Friday at Wuerfel Park and helped the Traverse City Beach Bums trim a game off Lake Erie’s East Division lead with a 1-0 victory.
Omahen has won three of his last four starts — and allowed one run or fewer in all three wins.
After starting the season 0-3 through five starts, he’s bounced back to get to .500 at 8-8, with a 3.17 earned-run average.
“I’ve had a better end of the year so far,” Omahen said. “At the beginning, I just put myself in those bad-luck situations where I was walking a lot of guys and putting guys on that I shouldn’t have. Now, I’m attacking hitters and trusting in my stuff — and it seems I’m getting better results. I’m pitching the way I should be.”
Friday was another example. He allowed three runners on in the first two innings, but those were erased by a pair of double plays, including one in the second in which he struck out Tyler Shover and Marcus Nidiffer threw out Dudley at second.
“At the beginning, I was kind of falling behind hitters — trying to press too much, trying to strike guys out instead of trusting my stuff,” Omahen said. “After the second inning got through with the big double play, I just really focused on my fastball and pitching off my fastball. Those guys really never proved they could hit it. So I was throwing my fastball and working on off-speed (pitches).”
The only offense the Beach Bums would produce came in the third inning.
“I’m fine with that,” Omahen said. “I love close games like that. It makes you focus a lot more, especially when you’ve got another guy dueling and you don’t want that guy to beat you.”
Carlo Testa brought in Scott Woodward with a two-out RBI single after Woodward walked and stole second.
“We did a good job of being patient and taking the base when it was there,” Langbehn said.
Dudley was 0 for 2 with a walk against his former teammate and added a pop-out against Capito for the ninth’s second out before Pat McKenna whiffed to end the contest.
“He used to be my catcher,” Omahen said of Dudley, who was Normal’s designated hitter.
Left-hander Jacob Liedka was the tough-luck loser, falling to 1-1 despite surrendering just one run on four hits and two walks and striking out eight in seven frames.
Testa stole second in the fifth inning, even though Liedka threw to first.
Nick Capito came on to toss the final two innings, striking out three to earn his 15th save of the year.
“He’s been like that every time out,” Omahen said of Capito. “He’s someone you can count on every time, especially with lefties coming up.”
The decision snaps a six-game losing skid for Traverse City and halts Normal’s six-game win streak.
“There’s 11 left, and every one of them matters,” Langbehn said. “We can’t worry about them. We’ve got enough areas of our own that we need to fix that we got ourselves in trouble with on the road trip.”
Keoni Manago and Santiago Chirino accounted for all of Normal’s hits, getting two each. Zach Kometani had a pair of hits for TC, and Testa stole two bases to pull him within two of Florence’s Junior Arroyo for second in the league.
Lake Erie lost 5-1 to Schaumburg to pull the Bums within two games of the East Division lead, with Southern Illinois nipping at their heels, another game back.