(TRAVERSE CITY, MI) – The ThunderBolts clinched their third division title in four years Thursday night with a 14-7 rout of the Traverse City Beach Bums at Wuerfel Park. The win clinched the Bolts’ fourth straight trip to the playoffs and guaranteed them homefield advantage for the first round.
For the first time in the series, the Beach Bums scored first. They put a three spot on the board in the second inning, getting RBI hits from Jonathan Alia and Matt Brown.
The ThunderBolts responded with a five-run third. The first six batters of the inning all reached safely and the team sent ten batters to the plate as Windy City took the 5-3 lead. Jim Calderone started the inning with a double and Nick Kuroczko, Brandon Anderson, Gilberto Mejia and Michael Torres followed suit with hits in the inning.
Despite the lead, the Bolts did not run away with the game. Chase Burch led off the bottom of the third with a homer and the Bums scored once more to tie the game.
Windy City put the game away, though, with their second straight five-run inning. Once again they sent ten batters to the plate and faced three different Traverse City pitchers in the frame that put them ahead for good, 10-5.
In the game, every ThunderBolt starter had at least one hit except Ryan Basham, who walked and scored twice. They got three hits apiece from Gilberto Mejia and Mike Mooney and Zach Aakhus led the way with four RBI.
Sean Toler did not have his best stuff, allowing seven earned runs in 5.2 innings, but he earned his eighth win of the season, improving to 8-1. The losing pitcher in relief was David Slovak, who fell to 2-5.
With the win, the ThunderBolts know they will begin the playoffs at home on Thursday, September 9. The opponent is still to be determined.
After the Friday off, the Bolts will head to Oakland University to conclude the season with a three-game two-day series. Dustin Williams (7-3) and Andrew Werner (11-4) are expected to start Saturday’s double header that no longer has playoff implications for Windy City, but means a lot to the Oakland County Cruisers, who are tied with Traverse City for the wild card lead. Game time on Saturday is 11:00 CDT and both games can be heard on Sportsjuice.com.