2017 Frontier League Championship
Florence Freedom vs. Schaumburg Boomers (Frontier League)
UC Health Stadium-Florence, KY: I sat at my desk at work last Friday night, keeping an eye on the score on the computer, hoping the Florence Freedom would pull it off. Already down two games to none, another loss would mean the series would be over, and the Schaumburg Boomers would be champs of the Frontier League. Worse for me, it would mean no baseball game to attend the next day. Lucky for me, and the Freedom, I guess, Florence prevailed in 12 innings to keep the series going. So Saturday night, Brian and I made the trip up to see what could be a championship for the Boomers, or another game for the Freedom. I was a little shocked to see the game tickets at $20 a piece, even for a championship series. You’d think the home team would really want the local fan base to fill the park (not a huge crowd for such a big game…). At least Brian was able to get a photo op with Y’All Star as soon as we entered the stadium.
We sat down the third base side by the Schaumburg dugout, and the Boomers soon became one of Brian’s favorite teams, as I still rooted for the Freedom. The Boomers took the lead in the second inning, however, on a solo home run. Taylor Oldham tied the game for Florence with an RBI double in the third. In the fourth inning, Rock Shoulders hit a monster home run to put the Boomers up 2-1, quickly followed by another Schaumburg dinger. An RBI double put the Boomers up 4-1. Rock Shoulders is an awesome name. Like this guy wasn’t destined to be a professional athlete…
About this time we needed a treat, so Brian landed on the Funnel Cake Deluxe. This was served in a helmet, and consisted of a funnel cake, a crap load of ice cream, whipped cream, sprinkles and Oreo pieces. It was amazing, and both of us together couldn’t even finish it!
The sixth inning added more runs for Schaumburg. They hit another home run, and a sacrifice fly scored another to take a commanding 6-1 lead in the game. Florence came back with a two-out run in the bottom of the inning, to cut the lead to 6-2. Andrew Godbold paced the offence for the Freedom, going 2-3 with a run scored.
Between innings, Brian was supposed to participate in an on-field race, but back out once he learned he would be wearing over-sized underwear… Oh well, at least he did run across the field during the seventh inning stretch.
On the mound for Florence, Cody Gray got the start and took the loss. He tossed four innings, giving up four runs on seven hits, while striking out six. He would be replaced by Tony Vocca, who gave up two runs on two hits in 1.1 innings of work. Kit Fowler started for the Boomers, pitching three innings and giving up a run. Michael Wood would earn the win, tossing 4.2 inning, giving up one run and striking out four. FINAL: Freedom 2, Boomers 6.
After the final out, it was time for celebration for the Boomers. I don’t care what age you are or what level of ball you play, when you win a championship it is a big deal. Congratulations to Schaumburg, they definitely deserve it. And congratulations to the Florence Freedom on a great season also. We’ll be back at UC Health Stadium next season.
And of course they got to pass around the Frontier Cup and hold the Frontier League Championship banner:
As Brian likes to celebrate with winners, I found him out on the field celebrating with the Boomers! A few of the players were nice enough to take a photo with him.
I’ll leave off with a very short video of Brian getting a game ball from his new favorite player Kyle Ruchim of Schaumburg. This is what makes the sport we love so great…
Video and photos property of Minoring In Baseball
Florence Freedom vs. Traverse City Beach Bums (Frontier League)
UC Health Stadium-Florence, KY: Second double-header in as many days due to a rain-out the night before. Again, because I’m so far behind, I’ll be combining both games into one post. We settled in to see the Freedom take on one of my old teams from Michigan, the Beach Bums. My dad was pulling for TC all the way, but I was torn a bit (or more accurately, didn’t really care much as long as I was watching a good game). The stadium in Florence is nice, and usually has a pretty baseball savvy crowd, with Cincy just across the river. It was another game without much of a crowd, however, mainly due to the possibility of rain.
The first game was a close one, and one my dad was happy with the outcome of. Leading Florence offensively was Daniel Fraga, who went 2/4 with two runs scored. Jose Brizuela drove in four of the Freedom’s five runs, and also went 2/4. On the mound, Tony Vocca took the loss, pitching 5.1 innings of the shortened game. He gave up all six runs on ten hits, while striking out five. FINAL (7) game 1: Freedom 5, Beach Bums 6.
In the second game, the home team was able to even the score. On the bump for the Freedom Cody Gray pitched all seven innings, only allowing three hits and striking out seven. He was helped on the offensive side by Andre Mercurio, who went 3/3 with an RBI. Jordan Brower pitched in going 1/2, also. FINAL (7) game 2: Freedom 4, Beach Bums 1.
It was a fun night of baseball, and really the seven inning games move along pretty quickly. We enjoyed the ballpark and I still would like to get the kids up here for a family Sunday game. The next posts will be starting the games at the ACC Tournament, and I’ll also use some space to plug my social media, as you can follow on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @minorbaseball. You can see real time photos instead of having to wait for me to finally get all of these posts up!
I’ll end this one with a video of Y’All Star doing the YMCA, but some jack-hole kept getting in the way…
Photos and video property of Minoring In Baseball
The 2016 Y’All Star Game
East vs. West (Frontier League)
UC Health Stadium-Florence, KY: This week was the annual All-Star Game for the Frontier League, nicely dubbed Y’All-Star Game this season due to it being held down here in Kentucky. This was our first game in Florence, and in my opinion, they have a nice little stadium.
When we entered, we were met with a barrage of mascots! We got to meet Big L from the Lexington Legends (South Atlantic League), Wild Thing from Washington (Frontier League), and, of course the lovely Rosie Red from Cincinnati!
We had great seats in the front row, and I’m glad we didn’t sit behind the dugouts. It’s my pet-peeve, and really the only negative about this ballpark is that the netting wraps all around the ends of each dugout, which doesn’t give a great view of the game.
The Y’All-Star Game also had some guests, with Jake the Diamond Dog being the first. Other than being just a cute dog, he could fetch bats, balls, and brought the umps some water.
It started out as a pretty hot day, but as the game started we got a little cloud cover and a breeze that made it a perfect night for baseball. I tried to get some better photos while we still had sun-light, though.
And here is the second special act of the night, Myron Noodleman, who was absolutely hilarious!
And this is Y’All Star, the Florence Freedom mascot for this season. I think their mascot is usually an eagle, but he wasn’t present at this game. Maybe they’ll bring him back next season. Y’All Star is based on the famous water tower by the Florence Mall:
Here is Andrew Godbold, the Frontier League’s home run derby champion from the night before, and a member of the Freedom:
In the game that was going on, the East was actually winning 3-1 for most of the game, until the West hit their stride in the seventh inning. Here’s a quick video I did before the wheels fell off for the East.
But before I get to that, lets insert a selfie of Trevor and I. Like I said, we had really good seats:
It was a huge inning for the West, as they scored seven in the seventh, with help from the Evansville Otter’s Nik Balog who hit a three-run blast to put his team in the lead.
We also got to see Scott Patterson, from our old team up in Michigan, the Traverse City Beach Bums:
The West added on a couple of more runs, and the East just couldn’t get back into it. Sorry I don’t have more names and stats for the game listed, but if you’re interested you can read the full review from the Frontier League’s website HERE. Below, the West celebrates their Y’All Star Game victory! FINAL: West 11, East 4.
And here is Balog receiving his Y’All Star MVP trophy:
This was simply a fun night, and I really enjoyed the show the Frontier League put on. They really didn’t have anything exciting going on before the game, but they did make it into a three-day event. I could only get this night off work, so we missed out on the softball game vs. the Chicago Bandits and the home run derby the nights before. We’re definitely planning another trip to Florence for a game. I’ll leave you with a video of part of the fireworks show that I shot on our way to the car:
Videos and photos property of Minoring In Baseball
Back to the Beach (Bums)
Traverse City Beach Bums vs. Joliet Slammers (Frontier League)
Wuerfel Park-Traverse City, MI: While back visiting family in Michigan, we decided to take in a Beach Bums game, the defending Frontier League champions. It seemed like we brought some of the southern heat with us, as the temps were pushing the upper 80’s, but the nice cool breeze off of Lake Michigan turned it into a perfect night for baseball. Brian remembered that the Slammers gave him a baseball last year, so he was actually rooting for the visitors.
The way the game started out, I thought it would be a high scoring affair, but then the pitchers settled in, and the game moved by pretty fast. At one point, 10 Beach Bum players were retired in a row. Lucky for TC, Jacob Lanning was on the mound, as he pitched a complete nine inning game for the win. He gave up only one run in the first inning, on seven hits, and he struck out two.
Also during the game, Brian was able to catch up with both Beach Bum mascots, Suntan and Sunburn. Be honest…doesn’t it look like the red bear is flipping me off??!!
Anyway, the Beach Bums scored one run in the first inning on a Will Kengor RBI double that scored Jose Vargas. Then in the fifth inning, Jeff DeBlieux hit a double of his own, this time scoring two to put TC in the lead for good. It was good to be back in Michigan, if only for a few days, and I’m sure this isn’t the end of us enjoying some games up here. We look forward to our next game in Kentucky, though! FINAL: Beach Bums 3, Slammers 1.
Photos property of Minoring In Baseball
Worth The Wait?
Traverse City Beach Bums vs Frontier Greys (Frontier League)
Wuerfel Park- Traverse City, MI: On our way back north, we decided to pass through Traverse City to catch a Beach Bums game. It had been raining most of the day, so we got to the ballpark about 15 before the game when we made our decision to go. I guess all the other Bums fans had the same idea, as there was a huge line for tickets. In fact, they finally decided to open a second ticket window about 20 minutes after the game started. In all, we waited almost an hour and missed three innings of the game before we finally set down on the outfield lawn.
As you can see above, Trevor and I were just happy to be in the ballpark, while Brian decided to enjoy the game from the playground.
I strayed a little to get a few photos, but was called back when some a-hole kid threw sand in Brian’s eyes. I don’t know why the Bums insist on having sand in the playground. Something like shredded tire would be so much safer and cleaner. I understand the beach theme, but don’t think it’s as important as safety. Brian was fine, though, as Trevor took care of him. Life is a little easier with a big brother watching your back.
With missing a few innings and the playground drama, it hard to get invested in the game. This was a pretty good game, as TC took an early lead (that we missed), and the Greys stormed back to take a 3-2 lead.
They also had the Frontier Leagues championship trophy, the Frontier Cup, on display so that was pretty cool.
With the Bums down by a pair in the ninth, we took seats in the lounge chair section. The game finally got interesting when they tied it up at four on a double by Jake Rhodes.
The Bums would complete the comeback win with a walk-off in the tenth innin with Reggie Dawson’s bunt scored Jay Austin. Lawson had two hits on the night, Austin two RBI’s. On the mound Rob Blanc earned his first win as a Bum, while Bret Dahlson earned the save. Not the best night, but at least it ended on a good note. Still blessed to be at a ballgame with my kids. With the Bums, Whitecaps, and Lugnuts all in the playoffs, we hope to make it to one more game. Here’s a video, too:
College Football-CMU vs OSU
Also over Labor Day weekend we caught some football, as the Central Michigan Chippewas hosted the Oklahoma State Cowboys in Mt. Pleasant. The Chips fell 22-13, but we had a fun night and at least it didn’t rain during the game like it did all day.
Photos and video property of Minoring In Baseball
Rain can’t spoil a day at the Beach (Bums)
Traverse City Beach Bums vs. Joliet Slammers (Frontier League)
Wuerfel Park-Traverse City, MI: The summer of rain continues, but we didn’t let it ruin our baseball fun over the weekend. Although it rained most of the weekend, the weather cleared up enough to take in our first Beach Bums game of the season. Our experience started off on a good note, as Brian got a game ball from the Joliet Slammers before the game even started. I guess it’s good to make the right friends, as he was chatting with the guys in the bullpen.
Here’s a video I took by mistake, as I thought that the photo mode was on the phone:
The game was a good one for the home team. The Bums scored three runs in the second inning, and never looked back on their way to victory. Offensively they were led by Jay Austin, who had four hits and was just a home run shy of hitting for the cycle. Jeff DeBlieux pitching in with a triple and 2 RBI’s, while Jake Rhodes and Greg Harisis each had hits. In the fifth inning, Graham Ramos hit and RBI single, and then scored on a double by Yazy Arbelo. On the bump, pitcher Kramer Champlin threw seven strong innings for the win, allowing four hits and no runs. Final score: Beach Bums 5, Slammers 1.
This is also the first time I’ve seen a mascot fight break out…
After the game, Brian was able to run the bases of Wuerfel Park.
After he ran the bases, he met up with a couple of the Slammers players to thank them again for the baseball. He was going to stand in line for the Beach Bum autographs, but he was tired and we still had a long drive ahead of us. This was a fun game, and the impending rain kept it a very small crowd. We were lucky that the rain held off for us, and I’m hoping to get back to TC soon. It’s a good ballpark to visit since one our way down state one way or another.
Here’s another video from the game:
Photos and videos property of Minoring In Baseball
A fun day in Traverse City
Traverse City Beach Bums vs. Normal CornBelters (Frontier League)
Weurfel Park-Traverse City, MI: It was time for the kids and I to make a trip to Traverse City for some fun and baseball. We hit the Beach Bums game early, so the boys were able to search the outfield and found four baseballs from batting practice!
We still have some time before the game, so we were able to watch some warm-ups and the boys got to visit with their Nana. She doesn’t make it to too many games anymore, so it was a special day to have her there.
The game itself was a good one for the home team Beach Bums. They got off to a good start, as Sean Gusrang hit a two-run homer to put the Bums up 2-0 in the first. The rally was continued by Yazy Arbelo, who doubled, and was hit home by a Jovan Rosa two-bagger. On the mound for TC, Alex Phillips earned the win, striking out three and only giving up six scattered hits. Final: Beach Bums 4, CornBelters 0.
After the game, Brian didn’t feel like running the bases, but the boys lined up for autographs from the team. The Beach Bums give the kids a free team poster to get signed.
While in Traverse City, we also had time to visit one of our favorite summer hang outs, Pirates Cove. The kids and I took part in some go-cart races, bumper boats, and the water coaster. Sometimes I think we just have too much fun together, but feel lucky and blessed to have this time with my kids and family!
Photos property of Minoring In Baseball
Wild Things, you make my heart sing
Washington Wild Things vs. Normal CornBelters (Frontier League)
Consol Energy Park-Washington, PA: After our trip to see some Cy Young stuff, we made our way to southern Pennsylvania to see the Washington Wild Things host the Normal CornBelters in Frontier League action. This is the first Frontier League ballpark we’ve been to outside of Traverse City. Consol Energy Park is a very nice ballpark to watch a game, also. The parking and entrance is in the right field area, so really no one was at the front of the stadium when the gates opened. I’m also glad that Wild Thing was at the front of the stadium, also, to let fans know that there was a game.
While exploring the ballpark, we had a nice surprise, in meeting actor Dwier Brown, who played John Kinsella (Kevin Costner’s father) in the movie Field Of Dreams. Brown was at the ballpark selling his own book, If You Build It…, and signing copies for fans. We did buy a copy, and he was nice enough to sign it and get a photo with us. He also threw out the first pitch to start the game. In the time it’s taken me to finally get this post up, I have read the book and it’s very good. You don’t even have to be a fan of the movie or baseball to enjoy it. He also thought it was pretty cool that we were at the Field of Dreams movie site a few years ago, too.
We still had plenty of time to watch the teams warm up, and take some photos of the ballpark. I did notice that Consol Energy Park has the same artificial surface as the Beach Bums’ Wuerfel Park. The Wild Things also had a pre-game ceremony with members of the Make-A-Wish Foundation that was very nice. We got our shopping done, too, and I have to say Washington’s merchandise is priced well. I got a pennant and a Wild Thing plush for Brian. The mascot, simply named Wild Thing, made his presence known, but we really didn’t see him too much around the concourse during the game.
The game itself was another ugly one for the home team. Left fielder C.J. Beatty did have a nice night at the plate for the Wild Things, though, going 3-3 with three RBI’s on two home runs. On the mound, Alex Kaminsky took the loss for the Wild Things, throwing five innings, and giving up five earned runs on eight hits. In all, though, Consol Energy Park is a nice place to watch a game, without a bad seat in the house. Final: Wild Things 4, CornBelters 9.
Here’s another video from my YouTube channel from this game:
All photos and video property of Minoring In Baseball
Manager change in Traverse City
Langbehn to Cleveland: Manager Gregg Langbehn has left the Beach Bums organization to take a job with the Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball. He will be in charge of the new instant replay system in Cleveland, and report to the Indians’ bench on what calls should be challenged. He’s worked in organized baseball with the Houston Astros, but not at the major league level.
“It’s an incredible opportunity and challenge to be in the big leagues and one that I couldn’t pass up,” Langbehn stated on the Beach Bums website. “I’m really excited about it.”
Langbehn is the most successful manager in Beach Bums history, compiling a record of 267-212 in his five-year run with the club. He led the Bums to three playoff appearances including the Frontier League championship series in 2010. His 2012 season was one for the record books, as the Bums’ 64 wins was the third most in league history, and the best record for the organization. He was named the 2012 Frontier League Manager of the Year, and managed the 2012 and 2013 East All-Star teams.
Team president and CEO Jason Wuerfel also stated on the Bums website: “I’m excited. Any time a player or one of our coaches moves on it’s a real compliment to our organization and the area. We sincerely thank Gregg for the job he’s done over the last five years and we part ways as friends.”
Rohn promoted: With Langbehn leaving for Cleveland, this opened the door for bench coach Dan Rohn to take the helm of the Beach Bums. He started with TC in 2011 as a special assistant, then was promoted to bench coach in 2013. He is a native of Alpena, Michigan, and played ball down at Central Michigan University for the Chippewas. Rohn played in the pros for 13 seasons, including three in the majors. He began his minor league coaching career back in 1990 as hitting coach for the Triple-A Portland Beavers. Rohn went on to become a four-time MiLB Manager of the Year winner, in the Double-A Eastern League (2000), and the Triple-A Pacific Coast League (2001, 2004, and 2005). He worked in the bigs with the Seattle Mariners as an administrative coach, and last managed the Triple-A Las Vegas 51’s of the PCL in 2010. This seems to be a great situation for both Rohn, and Traverse City.
“I’d really like to thank the Wuerfel family for the opportunity. I love the chance to work in the city that I live in,” Rohn stated on their website. “We have a strong ball club coming in this year; I’m really looking forward to putting a winning team on the field.”
It’s by great coincidence that Rohn was residing in TC, and that his wife teaches at a nearby arts academy. Matt Pulley will return as the Bums hitting coach, but the rest of Rohn’s staff has yet to be named. Jason Wuerfel seems very thankful that Rohn was available, also, as stated on the website.
“We are very fortunate to have a manager with his qualifications. There are a lot of good managers in this league but none with the experience Dan has. Dan will manage the team professionally on and off the field; the timing is perfect, we are just very fortunate.”
Again, this seems like a win-win situation for all involved. We’d like to wish all the best to Langbehn in his new journey, and we’ll be at Wuerfel Park cheering on Rohn and his Beach Bums whenever we get a chance this summer.
Photo property of Minoring In Baseball
D-Backs purchase TC pitcher’s contract
The Arizona Diamond Backs have purchased the contract of hurler Johnny Omahen from the Traverse City Beach Bums. In his first and only season of indepandant league baseball, Omahen went 8-9, with a 3.37 ERA in 21 starts. He also led the Traverse City squad in strike-outs with 78, only gave up two home runs, and his 115 innings pitched were a personal best. The right-hander was the second man in the Bums rotation, just behind Frontier League All-Star Scott Dunn. This will be Omahen’s second stint in affiliated baseball, being drafted by the Miami Marlins in 2011 out of California State University San Marcos. His pro career started with the Gulf Coast League Marlins, then the Jupiter Hammerheads, going 4-1 with an impressive 1.94 ERA in 41.2 innings, while only surrendering one home run. He was released after a rough season with the Greensboro Grasshopper in 2012, where he went 1-5 with a 5.24 ERA. Miami’s loss was the Beach Bums gain, however, and now the Diamond Backs. The Beach Bums COO Jason Wuerfel will miss Omahen in their rotation, but seems to wish him the best.
“While it’s tough to lose a pitcher of Johnny’s caliber,” Wuerfel stated on the Beach Bums website, “we are pleased to see his ability recognized. He’s a first class young man.”
There’s a chance we might see him in the Midwest League this season, with Arizona’s affiliate the South Bend Silver Hawks. If we do, we’ll certainly wish him our best.
Photo courtesy of the Frontier League