BY DENNIS CHASE
TRAVERSE CITY — Marcus Nidiffer admits he's a hot and cold hitter.
Well, the Traverse City catcher is sizzling right now.
Nidiffer continued to blister Joliet pitching Wednesday night, hitting a three-run homer and adding an RBI single, as the Beach Bums cruised to a 9-1 Frontier League win at Wuerfel Park.
Nidiffer now has five hits, including two home runs, and nine RBIs in the first two games of the series.
"That's how it goes," he said. "I'm either really bad or really good. It's that kind of game --up and down, up and down. You like to try and keep it constant, but it's hard to do."
Nidiffer drove in what proved to be the winning run in the second inning when he singled in Sean Gusrang. He capped the night with a three-run blast to left in the seventh — a shot that Nidiffer wasn't quite sure had the distance to leave the yard.
"I've hit quite a few here that I thought would get out, but they didn't," he said. "Tonight there was no wind and it carried a little more than I expected and it got out."
Nidiffer, who bats eighth in the lineup, came into the series with five homers and 24 RBIs on the season.
"He's being aggressive (at the plate)," Beach Bums manager Gregg Langbehn said. "He's getting pitches up in the zone and he's squaring them up pretty good right now."
And he's not the only one. The Beach Bums pounded out 16 hits, this on the heels of a club-record 20 hits Tuesday night. Brian Heere and Gusrang led the charge with three hits apiece. Ryan Still, Chase Burch, Kyle Colligan and Nidiffer chipped in two hits. Still and Heere each drove in a pair of runs.
Traverse City has now outscored Joliet 27-2 and outhit the Slammers 36-5 in the two games.
"This doesn't happen too often," Langbehn said. "That's why baseball is such a great game. We had a series in Rockford earlier this year where we had 15 hits in three games. That's just the way it goes."
Traverse City, now 52-28, took charge early, scoring four runs in the first two innings.
Brooks Belter notched his ninth win of the season. He worked five innings, allowing one run on three hits. Belter was in control through the first four innings before struggling in the fifth. He surrendered a homer to Eric McGee, then later in the frame hit a batter and walked another. He pitched out of trouble by inducing Abel Nieves, who came into the game second in the league in hitting at .344, to fly out.
Langbehn watched from the top step of the dugout with Nieves at the plate. As soon as the inning ended, he made the call to the bullpen.
"His pitch count was in the low 90s," Langbehn said of Belter. "At this point in the season I'm just going to turn it over to the bullpen. I just didn't want the outing to turn into something that I would have had to take him out the next inning."
Nick Capito and Jake Sabol justified the decision, pitching four perfect innings in relief. Combined with Michael Devine's job Tuesday, Traverse City relievers have hurled seven perfect innings in this series, which concludes tonight.
"They've (bullpen) been strong all year," Langbehn said.
Steven Maxwell suffered the loss. He surrendered six runs on 10 hits in four innings.
Jacob Clem (6-4, 2.77) will get the start for the Beach Bums tonight. He'll be opposed by Jacob Sanchez (4-1, 1.61).