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.
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.
West Michigan Whitecaps-2015 Midwest League Champions
Monday night the Whitecaps held on to beat the Cedar Rapids Kernels 3-2 in a decisive game five to win the Midwest League crown. This is the teams first championship since 2007, but manager Andrew Graham won the title as a catcher for West Michigan back in 2004. The ‘Caps split the first two games at home, getting shut out 5-0 in game one, and coming back with a 4-1 win in game two (the one that we were at). They dropped a heart-breaker in game three, when the Kernels earned a 3-2 walk-off win in the ninth inning. Never giving up, the Whitecaps held on to win game four 2-1 and game five 3-2, on the back of relief pitcher Joe Jimenez.
In the final game, Ross Seaton earned the win on the mound, holding the Kernels to only two runs. The Whitecaps scored their runs on RBI’s by Francisco Contreras and David Gonzalez, while the third run was scored by Contreras on a wild pitch. Jimenez struck out the side on the ninth inning to secure the victory, and championship! As memorable as this season has been, we were lucky to get down to a handful of games to see the Whitecaps play. With Larry Parrish retiring in Toledo, I fully expect Andrew Graham to be promoted, unless the Tigers’ organization brings in someone to take over just at the Triple-A level. I think he’s done a great job with this team the last two seasons, and wouldn’t mind him sticking around. Congrats again, to the Whitecaps! You can read more on their championship win on the Midwest League website HERE.
Traverse City Beach Bums-2015 Frontier League Champions
The Beach Bums defeated the River City Rascals by the score of 4-1 last Friday night to win the Frontier Cup. The Bums swept the Rascals 3-0 in the best of five series, and were 6-0 in the postseason. In the ten year history of the ball club in Traverse City, this was the second time making to the finals, being defeated by River City back in 2012. The Bums literally went from worst to first this season, winning a club record 56 games as they advanced to the palyoffs for the fourth time since 2010. Injuries plaqued last seasons team, including Frontier Cup MVP Jose Vargas. Vargas was also the hero of game two, with a walk-off base hit to give his team a 6-5 win, and complete the comeback when they were down 5-1. Manager Dan Rohn, a Central Michigan alumni, did a great job with the team this season, and I think the Beach Bums are lucky to have a veteran coach at this level. Congrats to the Beach Bums, and were at least able to make it to a couple of games this season, including the last weekend of the regular season that started their nine-game winning streak. You can read more on the Bums title win on the Frontier League website HERE and at the Record Eagle website HERE.
Photos courtesy of the Whitecaps and Record Eagle
Wuerfel Park–Traverse City, MI: Here in TC, back on Family Fun Night. It was all about family, too, as my mom (the kids’ Nana) was able to make a rare appearance at the ballpark. The kids always enjoy the game better with their Papa and Nana…probably because they get spoiled. We opted for the lawn seats again, and Brian was happy to have plenty of playground time. After the game though, he was like: “I haven’t even watched much baseball yet! We can’t leave!” Anyway, this will be a short entry, as this was probably our last game of the season, unless we make it down for a playoff game. Not much excited happened, other than relaxing and watching baseball. Lily and Trevor patrolled the foul area a bit, but nothing hit our way. It’s didn’t take as many pictures either, but just wanted to soak it all in until next year.
The game itself was another good one for us. On the mound for the Beach Bums, Jake Sabol held the Cornbelters scoreless in seven innings of work. He struck out five, walking none, and only giving up six hits. The TC offense wasted no time, either, as Ryan Still scored on a sac fly by Jose Vargas in the first inning. The Bums’ bats came alive again in the third, as Vargas doubled, and then scored on a Chase Burch triple. Zach Kometani scored Burch, to put his team up 3-0 at that point. In the fifth inning, Traverse City added to its lead, with Burch and Kometani adding another RBI each, and Burch scoring a run. Another good win by the Beach Bums, and we’ll be following them through their play off run. Final Score: Beach Bums 6, Cornbelters 1.
Wuerfel Park–Traverse City, MI: I admit I’m a little behind on my posts. The last entry I wrote a few weeks ago, but was just able to get the pics uploaded due to computer problems and us moving into a new house! Anyway, this game was also a few weeks ago, but still fresh in my mind as it was a good one. And the ‘free baseball’ headline has to do with the tickets coming with Trevor’s baseball academy, and also the fact that this was another game for us that went into extra innings (our game in Battle Creek was extras, too). So, we’re back at Wuerfel Park, the site of the baseball academy, here to watch the big boys play. Another game where Brian spent half of it at the playground, but still had time to visit with his Papa, and meet the TC mascots Suntan and Sunburn. Trevor hung out in the outfield, but wasn’t able to wrestle a foul ball this time. Lily did what Lily does, and socialized some but spent some time with her Papa also. We had great weather, and another fun time watching the Beach Bums, this time taking on the Florence Freedom in Frontier League action. And an action packed game it was…
The Bums were down 3-0 going into the seventh inning, you see, and that’s when things started going their way. Sean Gusrang reached safe at first due to a throwing error, to start a rally. Gusrang scored on a Marcus Nidiffer double, and later scored on a sac-fly by Ryan Still, to cut the score to 3-2. The eighth inning started out with a Taylor Wrenn double for the Beach Bums. He was moved to third by Jose Vargas, and scored on a Carlo Testa single, to tie the game at 3-3. Both team threatened, but couldn’t get any runs across until the 10th inning. That’s when Wrenn got hit by a pitch, then moved to second when Chase Burch walked. That opened the door for Zach Kometani, who became the hero of the game with his walk-off single, scoring Wrenn. On the mound, Nick Capito earned with win with three scoreless innings. I hope our games next weekend will be as exiting as these! Final: Beach Bums 4, Freedom 3 (10 innings).
Wuerfel Park–Traverse City, MI: On our way back home, we decided to hit a Beach Bums game, and make the weekend complete. It was their Family Funday Sunday, with the team signing autographs, so we got there when the gates opened. We decided to go with the lawn seats for this game, which we haven’t done in a few years. We dropped out blankets out by the playground so Brian would be happy, and so we also had a nice view of the game. We were lucky enough to find two Frontier League baseballs waiting for us out there, too. Getting to the ballpark early does have it’s advantages. We also found out that the Bums do the autograph sessions after the game, so we had some time to walk around and get some pics before the action started. The game itself was great, as the Beach Bums scored four runs in the first inning, and never looked back. Jeremy Banks led TC with three hits, while Chase Burch, Carlo Testa, and Zach Kometani each collected a pair. Burch had four RBI’s in the game, and as of this post leads the league with 39. Jose Varges also had a two RBI triple in the first inning to help set the pace. On the hill, Scott Dunn was brilliant, throwing a two-hit shutout. He only gave up a pair of two-out singles, and no runners went past first base. This was also the first complete game of Dunn’s career, and he did it throwing just 89 pitches. Final score: Beach Bums 8, Crushers 0.
During the game, Trevor wrestled down a foul ball, also, so we had three on the day. He really earned that ball! The Air Force was also represented, with a trailer full of recruitment material and give-aways for fans. It’s good to see our armed forces represented, and the Beach Bums do a great job supporting the troops! After the game was more fun, as Brian showed off his stuff running the bases with the other younger kids. It was then time for some autographs, and TC has a good system of having some tables set up so fans can move down the line in an orderly fashion to meet all the players and coaches. Lily and Trevor were each given a free team poster to get signed, while Brian opted to use one of the baseballs we found. The players were nice to the kids and this made it a special game for us. Just some more reasons to check out some Independent Pro teams if you get a chance. Family friendly and lots of fun. We’ll be back in Traverse City later this month, as Trevor will be participating in one of the Bums baseball clinics.
The Traverse City Beach Bums are the best team in the Frontier League. I know that’s a pretty bold statement, but with a record of 64-32 at the end of the regular season, they are statistically the best. Now comes the hard part…winning the playoffs. They start their quest on Wednsday taking on the Souther Illinois Miners, and will then hopefully take on the winners of the Gateway Grizzlies/Florence Freedom series. It was probably no suprise, either, that the Beach Bums were named the Frontier League Organization of the Year. Contributing to the Bums win/loss record, was the fact that they led the league in overall attendance with 160, 581, and average attendance with 3, 491 per game. The roster also includes the winner of the Morgan Burkhart Award, given to the Frontier League’s MVP in Jose Vargas. He has broken many of Traverse City‘s offensive records this season, and was one home run short of setting a league record of 30 home runs and 100 RBI’s. Vargas ended the season with 29 dingers, and 100 RBI’s right on the nose. He also hit .290 for the season. The team also includes four post-season Frontier League All-Stars. Chase Burch was named as the All-Star first baseman after hitting .304 with 17 home runs and 76 RBI’s. Ryan Still was named as the All-Star second baseman, after hitting .301 with 110 walks. This set the league record for bases on ball in a season. Vargas is the league’s All-Star third baseman, for putting up his great numbers, and in the outfield, Jeff Flagg is defiantly an All-Star. He hit with power all season, knocking 20 over the wall with 83 RBI’s. Bums manager Gregg Langbehn seemed pretty proud of his team and what they accomplished so far.
“The Beach Bums are honored to be represented in several postseason categories,” Langbehn stated the the Bums website. “Like we have said all along, when you surround yourself with good people, the right people and quality players, good things will come of it. Burch, Still and Flagg all are deserving of being on the post-season All-Star team. Their contribution have been significant to this squad. Jose (Vargas) is well deserving of the FL MVP. Without question he earned that award.”
Something good also happened for Langbehn, too, as he was given the Roger Hanners Award given to the Frontier League Manager of the Year. His team’s 62 wins this season ranks fifth in the FL history books.
“As a whole, we are proud and honored to receive these awards,” Langbehn said. “It would not happen without the support, hard work, and determination of every person associated with the Beach Bums and all of our families. These are all organizational awards.”
Photo courtesy of the Traverse City Beach Bums
Traverse City Beach Bums vs. Evansville Otters: Wuerfel Park-Traverse City, MI
We finally made it down to Traverse City this week for our first Beach Bums game of the season. The weather was beautiful, and the kids were able to play on the play ground inside the park for a while. The kids were happy that their Papa could meet us there, too, as he always spoils them rotten. What I really like about Wuerfel Park is that the concourse goes completely around the interior of the park, so we could take Brian for ‘walks’ and he can see the entire field, while we can keep track of the game. Lily and Trevor helped out a lot watching their little brother, and were rewarded with some ice cream. Not a huge crowd for a game during the week, but that’s fine with us, as the kids needed to run around a bit. It’s hard to ask them to just sit and watch a game when they’ve been in the car for a few hours. Our next game will be Star Wars night at the Whitecaps next weekend. That should be a memorable night.
In the game, the Beach Bums broke out the bats, scoring 12 unanswered runs. The Bums were sparked by a big fifth inning rally, scoring six runs. The offense was led by shortstop Jose Vargas, who had two two-run doubles and a solo home run during the game. He ended the game 3-4 with five RBI’s. Designated Hitter Chase Birch also knocked a two-run shot over the fence in the fifth. On the mound, Bryan Banes earned his fifth win of the season (5-0). Final Score: Beach Bums 12, Otters 4.