By JAMES COOK firstname.lastname@example.org
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Not many people saw Taylor Wrenn’s two-run, two-out triple in the eighth that effectively ended Traverse City’s 10-0 Frontier League home opener win Tuesday over Evansville.
One, many people had left during heavy rain earlier in the game.
Two, not even the Evansville outfielders saw the ball — and that’s why the game was called after eight innings.
With a thick, heavy fog hanging over Wuerfel Park, umpires sent both teams off the field with one out left in the eighth, and 25 minutes later the game was called when the fog hadn’t dissipated. The ballpark was virtually devoid of fans by that time anyway.
“Judging by what I saw, I don’t think they saw it,” Beach Bums manager Gregg Langbehn said of Wrenn’s triple. “(The umpires) made the right decision. It was getting dangerous.”
“It was pretty weird,” said TC starting pitcher Jake Sabol, a Shelby Township native. “I haven’t really been through anything like that before. The rain on and off — I’m from Michigan so we’ve had to deal with that kind of weather before. The fog was pretty crazy. Especially when you can’t finish a game because of fog. You know something is pretty weird.
A seven-run eighth inning — and a partial one at that — broke the game open.
The Beach Bums had already batted around, with Wrenn’s two-out triple driving in two and giving Traverse City (2-2) a double-digit lead.
“We were saying, ‘Hey, hit it to the outfield and see if they can make a play,” Sabol said. “Finally, Taylor Wrenn got one to the outfield, which put a couple runs up on the board.
“He threw his hands up like, ‘I have no idea where it’s at,’” Sabol said of the Otters outfielder trying to track the ball.
In his first action of the season, Sabol cruised through seven innings of shutout ball, striking out four and giving up only four hits. He didn’t surrender a walk.
“I was feeling better as the game went on, the more pitches I threw,” Sabol said. “I was able to establish my fastball early and get ahead in the count. Me and Marcus were on the same page right from the first inning, which is great to have in a catcher. It was a good first start, and I’m looking forward to building off that going into (my next start) Sunday.”
“He was very pitch efficient,” Langbehn said. “He pounded the (strike) zone, different speeds, different locations, different pitches. It’s exactly what we’re looking for. You pitch to contact in this ballpark, and I think he had 12 ground ball outs.”
Wrenn started the eighth with a single, Marcus Nidiffer walked and Andrew Cohn followed with an RBI single. Ryan Still walked the bases loaded and Matt Howard was hit by a pitch to force in another run. Cohn came across on a Jose Vargas groundup, and Chase Burch doubled in two. Chris Cowell walked for the third time in five at-bats and Wrenn delivered the biggest hit, lashing a triple to the wall that Evansville outfielders had a difficult time finding where it was. That’s when the umpires suspended the game due to fog.
“I’ve played in fog before, but I don’t ever remember it being like that here in my five years,” Langbehn said. “That was weird.”
Matt Miller came on for one inning of hitless relief work.
The Bums jumped out to an early lead in the first, as Scott Woodward singled and came in on a Sean Gusrang groundout. Traverse City tacked on another run in the second when Andrew Cohn was hit by a pitch and crossed home on a Woodward double down the right-field line.
Rain of varying intensity fell in the second through fourth innings, but play continued.
Cohn walked in the sixth and came across on a Jose Vargas double on a play that saw Woodward called out on a collision at the plate to end the inning.