During the early days in the Frontier League’s 26-year history, the independent league carved a well-deserved reputation for slugfests and high-scoring games. They were the house specialty.
The league has been transformed over the years to one that is more pitcher-friendly with many of its best pitchers each year being sold to major-league affiliates. That doesn’t mean that teams can’t play a throwback game of sorts, as the Wild Things and Traverse City Beach Bums did Tuesday night.
The Wild Things and Beach Bums combined for 21 runs and 28 hits, including six home runs, in their series opener with Washington pulling out a wild 11-10 victory.
Washington overcame deficits of 4-0, 6-5 and 9-7. Traverse City erased deficits of 5-4, 7-6 and 10-9.
Washington had runners on first and third with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning with the score tied 10-10. Traverse City reliever Matt Williams (0-1) struck out catcher Kyle Pollock for the inning’s second out and the Beach Bums intentionally walked Reydel Medina to load the bases.
Hector Roa then hit a slow chopper up the third-base line that the Beach Bums’ Steve Lohr charged quickly and fielded about 60 feet from home plate. Lohr’s leaping off-balance throw to first base was high and wide as Roa reached safely and James Harris scored what turned out to be the game-winning run.
Wild Things closer Zach Strecker (3-0), the fourth Washington pitcher of the game, entered in the eighth inning and got the final five outs. Strecker struck out the side in the ninth.
Third baseman Mike Hill had a big game at the plate for Washington, going 3-for-5 with two opposite-field home runs and four RBI. Hill hit a three-run shot in the fourth off Traverse City starter Justin Finan that gave the Wild Things a 5-4 lead. He added a solo shot that smacked off the scoreboard beyond left centerfield to open the sixth inning.
Traverse City hit four home runs, two each by first baseman Luke Lowery and designated hitter Alexis Rivera. Lowery’s second homer was a solo shot just inside the left-field foul pole that tied the score at 10-10 in the seventh inning. Lowery and Alexis Rivera hit back-to-back homers in the first inning off Washington starter Chase Cunningham.
Medina, Roa and Hill, the Nos. 5, 6 and 7 hitters in the Washington lineup, combined for seven hits and eight RBI.
The Wild Things had taken a 10-9 lead by scoring three times in the sixth, the last two coming when Pollock singled to left field to drive in Harris and the ensuing throw to home plate got away, allowing Carter McEachern to scramble across home plate.
That advantage didn’t last long as Lowery’s second homer of the game tied the score in the seventh.
For Thursday night’s series finale, former Indianapolis Colts and West Virginia University punter Pat McAfee will play right field for the Wild Things. McAfee currently works for Barstool Sports Radio. Half of all proceeds will benefit the “It’s About the Warrior Foundation.” … Washington has scored 133 runs over its last 14 games.