Grizzlies are handed first defeat

News-DemocratMay 18, 2014 

— Traverse City veteran Jose Vargas made sure the ninth-largest crowd in Gateway Grizzlies' franchise history went home unhappy Sunday at GCS Ballpark.

Vargas hit a one-out solo home run in the sixth inning to break a 3-3 tie and send the Beach Bums past Gateway 6-3 in a Frontier League contest.

The Grizzlies (2-1) gave hope to a crowd of 7,183 when they rallied from an early 3-0 deficit to tie the game at 3 in the fourth inning on a run-scoring single by Michael Wing and a two-run single from Ben Waldrip.

But Vargas gave the Wild Things the lead for good when he took a pitch from Gateway starter and losing pitcher Andrew Aizenstadt well over the left-field wall for his first homer of the year.

Jeff DeBlieux and Jake Rhodes also hit homered off Aizenstadt, who gave up just five hits in six innings.

"The home runs are what hurt Andrew today. Other than that, I thought he did a good job,'' Grizzlies manager Phil Warren said. "He threw a breaking ball to Vargas and missed with it. He (Vargas) made him pay and that's what he's all about.

"But I'm pleased. You're talking about a guy (Aizenstadt) who was in the bullpen all last year with a different club and now he's getting a chance to start. He's a savvy guy. He'll be fine.''

Vargas' home run made a winner out of Wild Things starting pitcher Casey Delgado, who worked five innings. But the story was the bullpen of Traverse City, as four relievers combined to hold Gateway to just two hits over the final four innings.

Outscored 6-1 in the first two games, the Beach Bums wasted little time getting going against Aizenstadt.

A 24-year-old right-hander who last pitched for Wichita in the American Association, Aizenstadt retired the first hitter, but DeBlieux followed by taking a 1-0 pitch over the left-field wall for his first home run of the season.

The earned run was also the first given up by the Grizzlies pitching staff in the first 18 1/3 innings of the season.

Traverse City (1-2) made it 3-0 in the second inning when with one out Taylor Wrenn singled to center. Wrenn was then forced at second for the second out, but Rhodes followed with a line drive homer which sailed over the right-field wall.

Delgado breezed through the first three innings before Gateway got even in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Tommy Richards led off with the Grizzlies first hit, a double off the left-field wall. Madison Beaird then reached on a wild pitch on a dropped third strike, putting runners at first and third with no outs.

Delgado retired Niko Vasquez for the first out then walked Richard Seigel to load the bases.

Designated hitter Michael Wing made it 3-1 with an infield single and Waldrip followed with his two-run single, tying it at 3-3.

But the Grizzlies managed just two hits the rest of the way.

"I think we exposed ourselves in the first four or five innings, maybe being a little too stubborn with our approach. It took us too long to adjust to him (Delgado),'' Warren said. "He pitched well. You tip your cap to him.

"I'm just proud of the guys. We didn't quit. We kept battling and we gave ourselves a chance to come back late. We just didn't get the big hit today.''

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