The Traverse City Beach Bums are a win away from advancing to the Frontier League Championship series because they once again received great pitching and timely hitting in a playoff game.
Ian MacDougall allowed just two runs over seven innings, while the Beach Bums connected on a series of two-out hits late to defeat the Normal CornBelters 5-2 in Game One of the Best-of-Three Semi Final series.
The Beach Bums will look to close out the series, and move to the finals for the first time since 2010, in Game Two Saturday at Normal, IL at 7:35pm Eastern/6:35pm Central. If necessary, Game Three would be Sunday at 4:05pm Eastern/3:05pm Central.
Facing a Normal team that entered the playoffs having won 25 of their last 31 games, it was the Beach Bums who grabbed the early lead. Facing Normal starter Chris Carmain, a winner of his last four decisions, Jeff DeBlieux led off the first with a double. He’d score on Jay Austin’s one-out single giving the Beach Bums a 1-0 lead.
Then in the third, Sam Bumpers led off with a single. He’d steal second and advance to third on an error before Alex Tomasovich drove him in with a double to deep right and the score was 2-0.
MacDougall was excellent all night, scattering seven hits and striking out five. In the fourth, he allowed back-to-back singles to begin the inning but worked out of the jam with no damage.
Normal would break through in the sixth on Richard Lucas’s two-out, two-run homer tying the score 2-2.
The Beach Bums were knocked back, but not down and in the bottom of the inning they answered. Jose Vargas led off with a single. He’d eventually go to second on a passed ball and score on Greg Harisis’s two-out single to right putting the Beach Bums back in front 3-2.
In the seventh, the Beach Bums gained a cushion on two-out RBI singles by Brandon Jacobs and Yazy Arbelo.
Bret Dahlson came in out of the bullpen to fire a 1-2-3 eighth, and would get the first two outs in the ninth. However, he allowed back-to-back singles to give Normal life.
The Bums then called on Chuck Ghysels who would hit the number nine batter Tyler Shover loading the bases with two out. Any nerves were settled though as he induced Mark Micowski to hit a ground out to first basemen Arbelo ending the game.
MacDougall earned the win, Ghysels the save and Carmain was saddled with the loss.
The Bums have now won seven of eight against Normal, including their regular season meetings. They’re 26-11 all-time against the CornBelters.