It was a close, down-to-the-wire game, decided by one run.
It was exactly the kind of game the Traverse City Beach Bums, a team with a batting order ravaged by injuries, have been losing all season, especially on the road.
The Beach Bums, however, finally found the winning formula Wednesday night at the Wild Things’ expense.
Traverse City scored the game-winning run in the top of the ninth inning – without hitting the ball out of the infield – and rallied to defeat Washington 3-2 at Consol Energy Park.
The come-from-behind win improved the Beach Bums’ record in one-run games to 3-12 and was their first one-run victory on the road. The other one-run wins for Traverse City were a pair of 1-0 games at home.
“We finally won one,” said Traverse City manager Dan Rohn. “It seemed like we had lost 20 of these. But the kids battled back, got a couple of (home runs) and then did it in the ninth with speed.”
Washington’s only runs came on a pair of solo home runs by right fielder Stewart Ijames, his ninth and 10th of the season. He opened the second inning with a home run over the 375-feet sign in right centerfield off Traverse City starter Rusty Shellhorn. With two outs in the third, Ijames homered again to right centerfield, and this one just cleared the leaping attempt at a catch by Beach Bums center fielder Greg Harisis.
“We had seven hits through five innings, but all we had to show for it was two solo homers,” Washington manager Bart Zeller said. “They get one run in an inning that was a fiasco. It was crazy plays, but you create your own breaks.”
The home runs gave Washington a 2-0 lead, but Traverse City scored twice in the sixth on a pair of solo homers of their own and pushed across the winner in the ninth against reliever Al Yevoli (2-2).
Jeff DeBlieux led off the ninth by legging out an infield single and was bunted to second base by Josh Miller. Harisis then chopped a single that bounced high off home plate and gave the Bums runners on first and third. Benedict then hit a slow grounder to shortstop and the Wild Things were unable to turn a double play as DeBlieux scored to give the Bums a 3-2 advantage.
Closer D.J. Johnson pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth for his 10th save.
Washington starter Scott Dunn retired 13 of the first 14 Traverse City hitters and did not allow a hit until Kevin Taylor doubled off the base of the right-field wall with one out in the fifth inning.
The Beach Bums finally broke through against Dunn and tied the game with two solo homers in a span of three at-bats in the sixth inning. Miller got his first hit with the Beach Bums when he homered to left field leading off the inning. Following a flyout, Benedict homered, just inside the left-field foul pole, tying the score.
“Dunn pitched a very nice game,” Zeller said.
Both teams had excellent chances to take the lead in the eighth inning. Traverse City loaded the bases with two outs but former Pitt outfielder Casey Roche bounced into an inning-ending fielder’s choice.
The Wild Things then put runners on first and third with one out after Ijames drew a walk off Chuck Ghysels, who was excellent in two innings of relief, and Carter Bell hit a single through the right side of the infield off Will Rankin (1-2) on an 0-2 pitch. The threat ended when Connor Lewis bounced into a double play.
“Shellhorn battled after giving up the two home runs to Ijames that went about 700,000 feet,” Rohn said. “He battled and got us into the sixth inning so that we could use our strength, which has been our bullpen.”
Prior to the game, Washington released pitcher Devin Malone and signed for Gateway and Southern Illinois pitcher Matt Sergey. Malone was 0-0 with a 6.92 ERA in nine relief appearances. … San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum threw his second career no-hitter Wednesday against San Diego. Lincecum played for Rohn in 2007, when the latter was manager of the Giants’ Class AAA affiliate in Fresno. … The Beach Bums’ pitching coach is former major league pitcher Greg Cadaret. ... Rohn said injuries have depleted his lineup as the players who would hit Nos. 1, 3, 5 and 6 in the batting order are sidelined with injuries.