TRAVERSE CITY, MI – The Traverse City Beach Bums scored four runs in the fifth inning Friday night to open a big lead and eventually defeat the Windy City ThunderBolts 6-2 at Wuerfel Park.
The ThunderBolts got off to a strong start, scoring their first run in the first inning when lead-off man Brandon Anderson doubled and eventually scored on a Zach Aakhus RBI groundout.
It took until the third inning, but Traverse City responded. Chase Burch doubled with one out, the second of his four hits, and scored on J.T. Hall’s single.
They added a run in the fourth when Tom Zebroski, who had three hits, doubled and moved to third on a wild pitch. He scored on Chris Kay’s suicide squeeze bunt, giving the Beach Bums their first lead of the game at 2-1.
After a seven-minute rain delay, the Bums broke the game open in the fifth. With Hall at first base and two outs, Matt Brown singled and Zebroski’s base hit brought home Hall. After Jeff Flagg walked, Stephen Shults broke the game open with a bloop hit that scored two runs. Chris Kay then popped up to shallow left field, but a miscommunication in the outfield allowed the ball to drop and Flagg scored to finish the rally.
Meanwhile, David Nathanson was nearly unhittable for the Beach Bums. Between a Devin Shepherd second inning double and a Mike Torres sixth inning single, he retired 13 out of 14 batters.
The Bolts finally hit him a little in the eighth. Chad Cregar led off with a home run, cutting the deficit to 6-2. Windy City came up with two more hits in the inning, but a double play ended the chance for a big eighth. Nathanson pitched a perfect ninth to seal the victory.
Nathanson pitched his third complete game in seven starts, and his second against the ThunderBolts, improving to 3-2. Dustin Williams gave up all six runs in the loss (11-6).
The Bolts now trail Traverse City by two games and are 2.5 out of the playoffs with eight games to play. They face a critical test in game two at Wuerfel Park Saturday night. Bryant Cotton (6-8) pitches for the ThunderBolts against Scott Dunn (7-3). Game time is set for 6:05 and the contest can be heard on WXAV, 88.3 fm and wxav.com.