By JAMES COOK
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Gregg Langbehn said he'd keep his starters in the last week, even when the games didn't mean anything.
He wasn't kidding.
A day after clinching home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, the Traverse City Beach Bums played its entire starting lineup in a 6-1 victory Wednesday against Gateway at Wuerfel Park.
The Beach Bums (62-30) set the league record for saves in a season with 35, as Jake Sabol went the final 3.1 innings to earn his first of the year. The win also ran their franchise-best season to its 62nd victory of the year.
"The only way you can get that is if you have more runs than the other team," outfielder Kyle Colligan chuckled. "That means both the hitters and pitchers are doing their job."
Colligan hit one of three Beach Bums home runs, belting a two-run shot in the fourth as part of a five-run inning.
"I'm not a home run guy," Colligan said. "I used to be back in college. But slowly over the years, more and more I'm trying to figure out myself. I'm just a gap-to-gap guy. He gave me a pitch that I could drive and I got a lot of it. It felt really good and snuck over the wall."
Kyle Eveland had the other big hit of the inning, likewise a two-run blast. Jeff Flagg added an RBI single.
Eveland watched his shot at the plate only to see if it was fair or foul as it was deposited in the grass just inside the left-field pole to surge the Bums into a 6-0 lead.
"His was pretty impressive," Colligan said. "It stayed fair the whole way. It was a good one. Kyle is doing well right now. He's awesome in the field and hitting the ball more. It's really nice when one through nine in the lineup, everybody is having a good time at the plate. And it's good timing for it, right before the playoffs."
Chase Burch hit his 17th home run of the season — and 75th RBI — to lead off the second inning, ending Alex Kaminsky's scoreless streak at 26.2 innings. He hadn't given up a run since Aug. 5.
It was the first time since prior to the All-Star break that Kaminsky (10-5) had surrendered more than three runs in a single start.
"It just seemed like there was some pitches up in the zone, and guys didn't miss," Langbehn said. "Kaminsky is a very good pitcher for them, and we took advantage of some pitches up in the zone."
Flagg's RBI was also his 75th, putting he and Burch in a tie for fourth in the league.
The Grizzlies (54-38) still had something to play for, clinging to a West Division lead over Schaumburg, which beat Southern Illinois 2-1 earlier in the day. Gateway had its lead slimmed to one game with the setback.
Beach Bums starter Kurt Wunderlich (3-0) had loaded the bases in the sixth before departing with two outs. Sabol came on and struck out Landon Hernandez, who had two of the four hits off Wunderlich in 5.2 innings — both doubles.
"Sabol has been great," Langbehn said. "Every time he's gone out, he's pitched well. He pounds the strike zone and pitches to contact.
"He got a huge out in the sixth inning. Wunderlich lost a bit of his feel for the strike zone. Sabol gets the biggest out of the night on a strikeout."
Wunderlich earned the win, allowing four hits and three walks in 5.2 innings.
"He keeps the ball down. It's hard to hit him, because he mixes it up," Colligan said of TC's starter. "He's got a lot of off-speed pitches. When he's throwing strikes, he's the guy you saw tonight — one run in about six innings."
Jose Vargas nearly hit both the 30-homer and 100-RBI marks in one swing when left fielder Jon Myers was able to haul in his blast at the fence in the fifth. Brian Heere had singled prior, which would have given Vargas the two RBIs he needed to reach 100 for just the second time in Frontier League history.
NOTEBOOK: Flagg struck out three times in a 1-for-4 day, bringing him within two of the league's single-season whiff record of 140. "¦ Nidiffer had three hits, and Brian Heere and Eveland each had two. "¦ Reliever Jason Matilla showed up in the clubhouse after the game, sporting a new haircut. He shaved the top of his head, leaving the hair around the edges, which was dyed a light blue. "He didn't even lose a bet," Langbehn said. "He did that on his own."