Wild Things lefty pitcher Frank Trimarco had another strong start Wednesday night, striking out nine batters over 6 1/3 innings.
Closer Zach Strecker got the final three outs of the game for his seventh save and kept his earned run average at 0.00.
But the biggest outs in the Wild Things’ 6-4 victory over Traverse City might have come from right-handed sidearm relief pitcher Davis Adkins, who simply got a job-well-done handshake for his efforts.
Adkins entered in a sticky situation in the seventh inning, in relief of Trimarco (3-0). Traverse City trailed 6-4 and had Orlando Rivera on first base with one out. Adkins managed to retire Max Dutto on a towering fly ball and Arby Fields on an inning-ending groundout.
Adkins followed that with a 1-2-3 eighth inning and turned the game over Strecker, the Wild Things’ closer. Adkins’ outing was not without it’s drama, though. When Dutto hit the high fly ball down the right-field line, Washington right fielder Hector Roa didn’t immediately see the ball coming off the bat. He put his arms out to his side and yelled for help.
“My heart skipped a beat,” Adkins admitted. “Fortunately, Roa got some help from our bullpen. They pointed to where the ball was.”
That was the only trouble spot Adkins had in this series. Lost in the messy pitching performances of Washington’s 10-9 win in 11 innings Tuesday night was Adkins’ outing. The Cordele, Ga., native faced four batters and struck out all four. He struck out two more batters in the eighth inning last night.
That’s a good sign for Adkins, who played a key role in Washington’s playoff push last season despite having a sore arm. He had bone chips removed from his elbow in December and was working out some mechanical issues when the current season began.
“I was pitching a little hurt last year,” Adkins said. “I’ve been working out some things this spring and it took a month.”
Adkins said he has been trying to keep his front side closed longer instead of flying open too soon, which causes his arm to lag too far behind the rest of his body. When that happens, he has trouble throwing strikes.
“Recently he’s been able to keep his pitch count manageable,” Washington manager Gregg Langbehn said. “One thing I’ve been trying to do is use those bullpen guys better than I did last year so they don’t wear down in the second half of the season.
“Davis did an excellent job for the second night in a row. He’s starting to get swings and misses with his fastball because guys know he likes to throw his slider.”
In other words, Adkins is starting to look more like the pitcher he was two years ago, when he had a 14-0 record and seven saves for Georgia Gwinett College, an NAIA school.
Traverse City hitters did a lot of swinging and missing in this game as they struck out 13 times. One player who avoided the strikeout was shortstop Will Kengor, who hit a two-run homer, just inside the right-field foul pole, to give the Beach Bums a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
Washington answered with three runs in the bottom of the first against John Havird (1-2). Roa had a two-run triple to give Washington a lead it would not relinquish. Roa also had a run-scoring single in the sixth that made it 6-3.
“It was critical that we answered their two runs in the first inning,” Langbehn said. “When they scored single runs later in the game we also countered them. That was important, especially against Havird.”
Havird, the first lefty starter Washington has faced this season, made three starts last year against the Wild Things and allowed only one run in each. This time, he gave up 11 hits and six runs in 5 1/3 innings.
“He dominated us last year,” Langbehn said. “He’s a good pitcher. He’s crafty and locates his pitches well. We did a good job executing a game plan against him”
Harris hit his league-leading sixth triple in the sixth inning, scoring Brett Marr. Traverse City’s entire team does not have a triple this season. ... Beach Bums manager Dan Rohn was ejected by base umpire John Saphire in the seventh inning for arguing a swinging strike call.