(Traverse City, MI) – The Traverse City Beach Bums (38-20) scored four runs in the third inning to take the lead for good as the Joliet Slammers (24-34) lost Sunday night by a final score of 10-6.
The Slammers tallied 10 hits in the game to the Beach Bums’ nine but fell short as they fell to a season-high 10 games under .500.
Joliet got on the board first as they tallied a run against Traverse City starter Bennett Whitmore (5-2) in the first inning.
With one away Hector Pellot drew a walk and advanced to third on an Abel Nieves double. Erik Lis grounded out but Pellot scored to make it 1-0 Slammers.
The lead didn’t last long as Jose Vargas took Joliet starter Michal Perconte (0-4) deep with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the first to tie the game at one. It was Vargas’ league-leading 20th home run of the season.
With the game tied at one, the Beach Bums got to Perconte for four runs in the third. Perconte walked three batters to load the bases. With two away Jeff Flagg singled in a run and a Perconte wild pitch made it 3-1 Beach Bums. Then Kyle Colligan doubled in two more runs to extend the Traverse City lead to 5-1.
Perconte took the loss as he went three innings, giving up five runs on three hits. He walked four and struck out five. He’s 0-4 overall between Gary and Joliet and 0-3 with the Slammers.
The Slammers pushed across a run in the sixth to cut the deficit to three. With two away Pellot doubled to right-center. He advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Lis single.
But the Beach Bums scored twice in the bottom of the frame against reliever Dustin Quattrocchi to take a five-run lead. With one out Sean Gusrang drew a walk. Marcus Nidiffer doubled him in and Nidiffer eventually scored on a RBI single from Ryan Still.
Joliet made the game close with three runs in the seventh inning. David Christensen, the newest Slammer, doubled to start the frame. Brad Netzel singled him to third and the Beach Bums took Whitmore out of the game and brought in their ace reliever Nick Capito. Matt Mirabal singled in Christensen and Patrick Norris tripled in two more runs to make the score 7-5.
Traverse City’s powerful offense answered in the bottom of the eighth by scoring three runs. It all started on Gusrang reaching on a Kyle Maunus error. One out later Kyle Eveland singled and the Slammers brought in Geoff Brown to face lefty Brian Heere. Heere drew a walk and a wild pitch scored a run with Ryan Still at the plate. Still drove in Eveland with a single. A Vargas sacrifice fly completed the scoring for Traverse City.
The Slammers got one run back in the ninth inning but it wasn’t enough as the Beach Bums prevailed.
Joliet takes on Traverse City Monday night at 6:05 p.m. Central Time. Jim Schult (4-4, 4.53 ERA) takes the mound for the Slammers. All the action can be heard on AM 1340 WJOL and online at www.wjol.com.