By CHRIS DOBROWOLSKI firstname.lastname@example.org
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Zach Kometani will be the first to admit he’s been struggling at the plate lately.
But one swing of the bat erased those frustrations as he lined a single into right field that scored Taylor Wrenn from second and gave the Beach Bums a come-from-behind 4-3 win over Florence in 10 innings Tuesday at Wuerfel Park, giving East Division-leading Traverse City two wins in three games against the second-place Freedom.
“I’ve been trying to battle through this little slump here,” said Kometani, who was 0-for-4, including three strikeouts in his previous plate appearances on Tuesday. “Hopefully, that hit there will propel me forward for the rest of the season. I hit it really well. I figured it was going to fall in. It was a low liner. I thought there may be an opportunity for the right fielder to throw (Wrenn) out because it was hit well, but when he bobbled it I knew we were going to score.”
Kometani’s single culminated a Beach Bums rally from a 3-0 deficit in the final four innings. Traverse City plated two runs in the seventh, then tied it in the eighth to send the game into extra innings.
“I thought it was one of our better wins of the year,” said Traverse City manager Gregg Langbehn. “That’s a good team. One of the best, if not the best teams we’ve played all year. It was a hard-fought win. The guys hung in there. That’s why you play nine innings. You just keep going and if you lose you come back tomorrow.”
The Beach Bums 10th inning started when Wrenn led off by being hit by a pitch thrown by Florence closer Jorge Marban, one of the top relievers in the Frontier League. He moved to second when Chase Burch walked with one out. After Carlo Testa fanned, Traverse City’s chance to score was left in the hands of Kometani, who managed to drop his hit in front of Florence right fielder Byron Wiley.
“Off the bat I thought it was good, then I saw Wiley closing on it a little bit,” said Langbehn. “They had shortened up once there was two outs to be in a position to throw somebody out at the plate. Fortunately for us, Zach hit it good and it just dropped right in front. There was a little question there for a split second and I was like, ‘oh, come on.’ We didn’t need to go any longer. You don’t want to cut into your pitching any more than you have to.”
“I knew when Zach kind of inside-outed it and threw his bat the other way, I knew it was down,” said Wrenn. “And as soon as Banger put his head down I knew we had won the game.”
Wrenn also scored the game-tying run, leading off the eighth with a double down the first base line and coming home on Carlo Testa’s RBI single three batters later.
It took the Beach Bums until the seventh inning to get anything going offensively. Florence starter Daniel Jensen scattered five hits over seven innings, walking only two and striking out six. He didn’t allow a Traverse City base runner to get beyond second until the seventh when Marcus Nidiffer doubled and advanced to third on the play. That hit scored Sean Gusrang to give Traverse City its first run. Nidiffer scored on Ryan Still’s sacrifice fly to right.
“Jensen was good,” said Wrenn. “We were chasing pitches out of the zone. We were a little impatient at the plate. I think the last couple of innings we really settled down and got better pitches to hit and worked deeper counts.”
Nick Capito (3-0) got the win for Traverse City, working three innings of relief. He helped his cause by picking off Pablo Bermudez at first in the ninth. That proved to be huge as Junior Arroyo tripled one batter later. The Beach Bums also made big defensive plays late in the game, with Gusrang running down a fly ball in foul territory in right field — a play where he toppled into the Florence bullpen — to start the ninth. In the 10th Scott Woodward made a putout in center, then fired to Still at second to catch Jacob Tanis leading too far off the bag to complete the double play.
Jake Sabol started for Traverse City (39-24) and went six innings, allowing two runs on four hits with five strikeouts and four walks. Florence (35-28) scored twice in the fourth and added another run off reliever Kyle Teague in the seventh.
The win extended Traverse City’s lead in the East to four games over the Freedom. The Beach Bums came into the series with a three-game lead.
“We’re super happy to get the win here,” said Kometani. “Florence is a really good team. We’ve got to stay on top of our game and just do what we can to win as many games as we can.”
The Beach Bums start a three-game series at home against the Frontier Greys tonight.