Baseball: ThunderBolts stumble vs. Traverse City Beach Bums 11-5
By Steve MIllar For Sun-Times Media July 5, 2013 11:16PM
Updated: August 8, 2013 6:58AM
The good news for the Windy City ThunderBolts was their offense showed signs of life Friday night.
After scoring just one run in three games while being swept at Lake Erie, the T-Bolts had 12 hits in the first contest of the nine-game homestand that will lead up to the All-Star break, eight of those hits against one of the Frontier League’s top pitchers.
It wasn’t nearly enough, though, as the Traverse City Beach Bums handed Windy City its fourth straight loss, 11-5 at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood.
The game got off to an auspicious start for Windy City (17-27) as Nate Pittman led off the bottom of the first by blasting his first career home run, a shot to left-center field.
Base umpire Chuck Robinson initially ruled Pittman’s shot bounced off the wall, but after a conference it was determined to have hit the pitching speed billboard beyond the fence.
Traverse City (26-17) struck four times in the second off Windy City starter Brian Oliver, however, as 2012 Frontier League Most Valuable Player Jose Vargas provided the big blow, a two-run double with two outs.
Evan Button, who went 4-for-5 with two doubles, hit the T-Bolts’ second solo homer in the fourth, but the Beach Bums again answered with a crooked number.
Traverse City scored five times in the fifth to break it wide open. After retiring the first two hitters of the inning, Oliver allowed the next five to reach. Zach Kometani provided a two-run single before Marcus Nidiffer crushed a three-run homer to make it 9-2 and chase Oliver.
It was a rough debut for Oliver (2-5), whom the T-Bolts signed to fill the spot left by injured starter Travis Strong. Oliver, who was released by the Southern Illinois Miners last week, allowed nine earned runs on nine hits and walked four in 42/3 innings.
Mike Torres (2-for-5) singled and scored on a double by Zach Aakhus (2-for-4, 2 RBI) in the fifth, but the T-Bolts stranded the bases loaded as C.J. Gillman lined out to third baseman Vargas.
Windy City made things difficult on Beach Bums starter Scott Dunn, arguably the league’s top pitcher over the first half of the season. The T-Bolts had eight hits and drew four walks against Dunn in five innings, but managed just three runs as Dunn improved to 9-0.
Both teams scored single runs in the seventh and eighth innings. For the hosts, Gillman singled in Button (double) in the seventh while Pittman singled and scored on Aakhus’ double in the eighth.
The debut of the other former Southern Illinois Miner pitcher to join Windy City in the last five days went smoother as Reese McGraw — signed earlier Friday — worked a perfect ninth.