TRAVERSE CITY — It was a risk worth taking.
Jeremy Banks legged out a triple to start the bottom of the sixth and came in two outs later on a Jose Vargas single to snap a scoreless battle as the Traverse City Beach Bums went on to beat the Frontier Greys 2-0 Tuesday night at Wuerfel Park.
Johnny Omahen pitched seven innings of shutout ball, and Nick Capito retired all six batters he faced in relief, as the East Division leaders went 10 games over .500 at 28-18.
Banks gave Omahen the only run he needed with some aggressive baserunning in the sixth. The leftfielder opened the frame by hitting the ball just fair down the rightfield line into the corner. As he rounded first and approached second, Banks saw manager Gregg Langbehn waving him to third.
“It was close, but for me it was a gamble worth taking at that point in the game,” Langbehn said.
Banks beat the relay with a slide.
“We were risking it a little, pushing the envelope, but it was late in the game and runs were at a premium,” Banks said. “That gave us three chances to get a ball through and score.”
After two pop outs, Vargas delivered a liner over the glove of Greys shortstop Luis Parache, who seemed to misjudge his leap for the ball.
“I put a semi-good swing on it.” Vargas said. “I hit it kind of soft and I think that’s what threw him (Parache) off. I think he thought it was hit harder. That’s why he jumped a little early.”
Banks trotted in with the winning run.
“That was huge, especially with the way Johnny was pitching,” Banks said. “He gave us a great outing.”
The Beach Bums added an insurance run in the seventh when Zach Kometani walked and with two out catcher Marcus Nidiffer blooped a single down the right field. Kometani, running on the crack of the bat, scored from first.
“I haven’t had one of those all year,” Nidiffer said of his bloop RBI. “I tip my hat to Komi on that. I appreciate the RBI.”
Omahen, meanwhile, allowed just four hits in his seven-inning stint. It was the second time in two weeks he’s tossed seven shutout innings at Wurefel Park. He improved to 3-4.
“Omahen is getting stronger,” Langbehn said. “That’s encouraging. His last three to four starts have been really good, very pitch-efficient. That was his problem early in the season. He was throwing a lot of pitches and not getting through the third, fourth and fifth innings. He’s on the right track. He’s been focused and now he’s got all three of his pitches working anytime he wants them.”
The Greys put two runners on in the second and seventh innings, but the Beach Bums turned double plays to end the threats.
Graham Johnson, who like Omahen was a Florida Marlins draft pick, was the tough-luck loser for the Greys. He’s now 1-4, his lone win over the Beach Bums last month. Although the Greys are in last place in the East at 17-28, they have played the Beach Bums tough, splitting four games this season.
“They put the ball in play,” Banks said. “They have good at-bats. They look better than a last-place team to me.”