Gateway’s playoffs hopes suffered a substantial setback Wednesday night at GCS Ballpark.
For the second consecutive night the Grizzlies gave up a three-run homer in the first inning en route to a 15-3 loss against the Traverse City Beach Bums.
The 12-run setback is the widest margin of defeat for Gateway and just the second double-digit loss of the season.
Gateway has given up 28 runs in dropping the first two games of the three-game series against Traverse City. Gateway looks to avoid its first sweep of the second half of the season Thursday with first pitch set at 7:05 p.m.
The Grizzlies (43-35) fall to three and a half games back of the second-place River City Rascals in the West Division. River City defeated Oakland County 2-0 to strengthen its lead for the final playoff spot.
The Beach Bums (43-37) benefited from Oakland County and Windy City’s loss. Traverse City trails both teams by three games for first place.
The Frontier League’s regular season ends September 5.
Tim Clubb was the second straight Gateway starter to struggle out of the gate. Clubb failed to record an out in the fourth before yielding to Jacinto Gonell.
Clubb’s lack of command of the strike zone was evident from the first batter. Clubb walked the lead off batter Matt Brown, who was caught stealing, but the next two batters reached on walks to setup J.T. Hall’s run-scoring single.
Brad Miller delivered the big blow with a three-run homer off Clubb.
Chase Burch added his second three-run homer of the series in the second inning to make the score 7-0. Burch crushed a three-run homer in the first inning of the series opener off Ricky Meinhold.
Clubb gave up run-scoring hits to Michael Diaz and Brown in the third and left with runners on the corners and no outs. Both runners scored off Gonnell as part of the four-run fourth.
Clubb was charged with 11 runs on six hits and walked five. Gateway’s starters have allowed 19 runs in 4 2/3 innings pitched.
Traverse City’s offense added its third three-run shot of the game in the fifth. Diaz’s third homer of the season made the score 14-2. Andrew Franco’s notched his first homer of the season with a solo blast to complete the scoring in the ninth.
Traverse City belted four homers in a game for just the fourth time in franchise history.
The Grizzlies have not help themselves against Traverse City, committing five errors Wednesday night and have walked 12 batters through the first two games.
Gateway’s Gordon Gronkowski’s two-run homer in the third was the lone runs the Grizzlies got off starter Ryan Platt.
Gateway’s offense didn’t manage anything outside of Gronkowski’s homer against Platt.
Platt gave up just three other hits and struck out seven in seven solid innings of work. Platt (8-3) walked one.
Jareck West had two hits in his first start since returning from a hand injury suffered on July 6.
Gateway tacked on a run in the ninth off reliever David Slovak. Matty Johnson drove in his 12th run off the season with single off the right-handed submariner.
Traverse City 430 430 001 — 15 12 3
Gateway 002 000 001 — 3 8 5
Ryan Platt and Andrew Flanco. Tim Clubb, Jacinto Gonell (4), Nick Walters (7), Breck Draper (8) and Landon Hernandez. WP-Platt (8-3). LP-Clubb (7-4). HR: TC- Brad Miller, 1st, two on; Chase Burch, 2nd, two on; Michael Diaz, 5th, two on; Andrew Franco, 9th, none on. Gate.-Gordon Gronkowski, 3rd, one on. Att.-2,345.