By JAMES COOK firstname.lastname@example.org
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — The Beach Bums picked up right where they left off last regular season, drawing tons of walks.
Traverse City added nine to its season total of 26. River City came in Tuesday’s games with 30 to lead the league.
Ryan Still drew two of those — and now has six in four games, despite teams knowing he set the league record last year for bases on balls.
“Ryan saw a lot of fastballs against Joliet, because they know what he’s going to do,” TC manager Gregg Langbehn said. “His knowledge of the strike zone is so good. It’s a credit to him: He doesn’t waver, he doesn’t change. Once in awhile, he’ll try a sneak attack on guys in a 2-1 count if they groove him a fastball and he’ll swing at it, just to change up the pattern.”
Backup catcher Chris Cowell and first baseman Chase Burch are also adding to the walk parade.
Burch has always walked a lot and worked four bases on balls already this year, while Cowell has six in just two games and 10 plate appearances.
“It’s going to be a different team than last year,” Langbehn said. “I think we’ll have a little better contact, but I don’t know if the power numbers will be there.”
Through four games, Cowell and Still each have six walks, with Marcus Nidiffer and Burch four each and Scott Woodward three.
“Everybody struggled this past weekend, but I thought the way we played on Sunday, we’ll be able to turn it around,” Woodward said of TC’s 6-2 win over Joliet to avoid being swept. “As long as the top two or three guys get on base, the other guys should be able to hit us in, and that’s all we’re aiming for.”
TORNADO RELIEF: The Traverse City Beach Bums are trying to help people in Moore, Okla., who were devastated by the May 20 tornado.
In the “May For Moore” campaign, Beach Bums director of media & broadcasting Chad Cooper kicked off the drive by pledging $2 for every run Traverse City scores for the remainder of the month of May towards tornado relief.
The Bums are in the midst of a three-game series with Evansville, whose pitching coach Jarrett Gardner is a native of Moore, Okla.
Fans can participate by emailing their pledge per run scored to email@example.com and putting May for Moore in the subject.
The Beach Bums have 10 games in May.
PINCH HITS: Team owner John Wuerfel announced before the game that the team would have a B-17 bomber fly over at the July 4 contest. ... Today’s starters are Frontier League All-Star Jacob Clem and Evansville’s Bryce Morrow, who pitched briefly for Traverse City in 2011 (1-0, 6.35) and has a 9-9 record and 4.07 record in three Frontier League seasons. Clem was 7-4 with a 3.01 ERA last season. ... Outfielder Sean Gusrang showed up this season with a different look. Ditching the long hair, he now has a shaved head and thick Brian Wilson-like black beard. ... Evansville reliever Matt Little was a college teammate of Nidiffer’s at Kentucky.