TRAVERSE CITY — No 10th inning magic on this night for the Traverse City Beach Bums.
The Frontier Greys erupted for five runs in the top of the 10th Wednesday to beat the Beach Bums 7-2 in a Frontier League clash between East Division rivals at Wuerfel Park.
Just 24 hours earlier, Traverse City pushed across a run in the 10th to edge Florence.
The first-place Beach Bums entered the contest 15 games over .500 at 39-24, the last-place Greys were 15 under at 24-39.
“That’s the way it goes,” Traverse City manager Gregg Langbehn said. “First-place teams lose games, too. They’ve played us tough all year.”
In fact, with the win, the Greys now lead the season series 4-3.
“We’ve played everybody tough,” Greys pitching coach and Michigan resident Tom Waelchli said. “I think we’ve lost seven games in the bottom of the ninth, and at least three in extra innings, one in the 17th, another in the 15th.
“We’ve got a good group of guys. We’re losing, but there’s no losing attitudes.”
The Beach Bums staked starter Mike Devine to a 2-0 lead in the second on a two-run blast by Zach Kometani. The Greys responded with two in the fourth on a two-run shot by J.J. Muse. It stayed that way until the 10th. Brock McCallister led off with a walk and then the Beach Bums misplayed two sacrifice bunts — one on an interference call, the other on an error — to load the bases. An RBI single by Justin Vasquez provided the winning run. Eric Avila and Mark Micowski added two-run hits for good measure.
“We just didn’t execute,” Langbehn said. “That stuff happens. We had opportunities to put some hitters away (in the 10th) and we didn’t do it. But we’re still going to wake up in the morning in first place.”
Traverse City was held to five hits by four Frontier pitchers. Starter Casey Delgado gave up three of those hits, all in the second inning. Carlo Testa beat out an infield single to stretch his hitting streak to 16. Kometani then followed with his home run. Matt Howard added a double, but was stranded.
Delgado, meanwhile, retired 14 in a row before Jon Shepard came on in relief. Shepard retired the first batter he faced before Howard singled and stole second. Ryan Woolley, who earned the win, and Bryce Shafer finished with three innings of shutout relief.
“Their starter, Delgado, had a real good change-up and we didn’t have an answer,” Langbehn said. “They pitched well. But we did, too. The game just got away from us in the 10th inning, unfortunately. They executed. We didn’t.”
Devine went six innings, allowing two runs on five hits. Matt Miller tossed three perfect innings of relief before the Greys loaded the bases in the 10th. Chris Squires replaced Miller and was greeted by the Vasquez single that gave the Greys the lead.
Traverse City had another setback as third baseman Jose Vargas left the game in the bottom of the sixth after straining a hamstring.
The teams square off in the second game of the series tonight with Jacob Clem (5-5, 4.78) pitching for the Beach Bums, Joe Zeller (6-6, 3.87) for the Greys.