TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Zeb Sneed hurled a two-hit shutout to lead the River City Rascals to a 2-0 win over the Traverse City Beach Bums on Wednesday. With the win, the Rascals (9-7) clinched their first series win in two weeks. The defending champion Beach Bums (6-10) are now already 7.5 games back of first place in the East division.
It took the former reliever turned starter 116 pitches to get through all nine innings while striking out 11 Traverse City batters and walking only one. While not having started a game before this season since he was with the Royals’ Rookie ball affiliate in Idaho Falls in 2012, Sneed has proven to be the Rascals most reliable starting pitcher. In his three starts this season, Sneed has not gone less than 6.1 innings or given up more than three runs. He is the only starter to go at least seven innings, and he’s gone at least eight twice.
Despite the gem Sneed was throwing on the mound, it could have all been for not. The Beach Bums pitching held the Rascals off the scoreboard for six innings. Finally, in the seventh they broke through. It was an inning of textbook small ball. Kyle Gaedele led things off with a walk. He was then bunted to second by Griff Gordon. Gaedele stole third with Dominique Taylor at the plate, one of four Rascals steals on the day. Taylor was then able to work a walk after falling behind 0-2. Finally, Jason Merjano gave the Rascals the lead with a sacrifice fly to left that scored Gaedele.
In just his second game in the leadoff spot this season, Merjano flourished in the role. The speedy second baseman went 2-for-3 with a walk, two stolen bases, a run scored, and the game-winning RBI.
The Frontier League’s leading hitter, Josh Silver, actually lowered his batting average to .483 despite a 2-for-5 night. He gave Sneed a little insurance in the ninth inning before he went back out to complete his shutout with his team-leading 17th RBI of the season.
Because Sneed was so brilliant he was able to cover for the Rascals hitters who left 11 runners stranded on the night. And in the file of somewhat strange baseball happenings, the Rascals had 8 hits, all singles.
The Rascals look to complete the sweep of the Beach Bums Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. eastern time with Jason Ziegler (1-0, 7.26 ERA) taking on Kramer Champlin (1-1, 2.10), who is one start removed from a no-hitter.
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