TRAVERSE CITY — If the dog days of summer turn out to be like Tuesday night, the Pit Spitters will take them.
Traverse City defeated Kenosha 3-0 on “Bark in the Park” night to win its 18 straight game and continue adding to the Northwoods League’s longest all-time winning streak in front of its human and canine fans.
“Winning never gets old,” Traverse City infielder Andrew Morrow said. “It’s always looking forward to it and coming to the field next day. It’s always a positive atmosphere.”
Morrow, a Northwoods All-Star Game snub, delivered the first runs of the ball game with a two-RBI single in the first inning that scored Hudson Byorick and Drake Titus, who reached base on a walk and an error, respectively.
Morrow was 2-for-4 in the game — the only Pit Spitters with multiple hits — including a stand-up triple in the third inning.
Pit Spitters starting pitcher Andrew Hoffmann, who is an All-Star, earned his sixth win of the season, making his seventh straight start in which he allowed one earned run or fewer.
The right hander gave up just one hit in six scoreless innings. He walked one, struck out four and lowered his season earned-run average to 0.69 — best among all pitchers in the Northwoods League.
Morrow said the work of Hoffmann and the other pitchers is the secret to Traverse City’s unbeaten run.
“Hats off to our pitching staff. They’re leading the Northwoods in a number of categories and kept up in so many games,” he said. “It’s so much easier to hit and play defense when your pitching staff is lights out.”
Slaten added an insurance run for Traverse City (30-13) in the fifth inning with a one-out RBI double that drove in Titus, who was hit by a pitch.
Traverse City chased Kenosha starter Ben Stephens from the game following that fifth inning after he allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits and four walks.
Daniel Head and Jake Arnold each added a hit for the Pit Spitters.
Chase Gearing, newcomer Luke Little and Joe Pace kept up Hoffmann’s sterling work from the Traverse City bullpen. Each reliever fired a hitless, scoreless inning to close out the game. Pace notched his second save of the season.
Kenosha leadoff hitter Brendan Hueth has the Kingfish’s only hit of the ball game in the game’s very first at-bat.
TC’s shutout marked its third of the 18-game winning streak and seventh of the season.
“It’s incredible to see those (pitchers) working as hard as they are and seeing the success they’re getting,” Morrow said.
Morrow isn’t sure how long Traverse City’s winning streak will continue, but he said everybody on the team is working to extend it as long as they can. The Pit Spitters hope to carve their names so deeply into the record books, their legacy will live on forever.
“There is no set number yet. We were joking about how cool it would be if we won out. Something stupid like 51 in a row. Don’t think we’re gonna get there, but at the same time riding it out, seeing how far we can get and trying to set an unbeatable number for other teams in the Northwoods.”
Since the Northwoods league began in 1994, only two Major League Baseball winning streaks lasted longer than the Pit Spitters’ current pace — the Oakland Athletics (20, 2002) and the Cleveland Indians (22, 2017).
Morrow and his teammates are aware they’re doing something special.
“Summer ball is always a different ball game. You get so close with each other because your spending so much time together every day,” Morrow said. “It’s as close to a brotherhood as you can get over two months. Seventeen, 20, 22 — whatever number you want to throw out there — they’re incredible milestones to get to. Hopefully we’ll be able to tie those guys or beat them.”
The Pit Spitters will face off with Kenosha (15-27) for the fourth straight game at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday at Pit Spitters Park.