TRAVERSE CITY — For Scott Dunn, the fireworks came during the game.
The Traverse City starting pitcher hit two career milestones Friday, notching his 200th strikeout and 20th victory in a Beach Bums uniform in a 12-2 win over Joliet to start a short weekend home stand.
“I just do my thing out there,” Dunn said. “They’ll come eventually. I’m excited about it.”
Dunn (5-0) recorded his 200th career Traverse City strikeout when he caught Joliet first baseman Grant DeBruin looking on an inside fastball to end the first inning.
Ryan Gehring and David Nathanson are the only other pitchers in TC history to notch 200 whiffs. Dunn finished the game with four to move past Gehring and trail only Nathanson on TC’s career list with 203.
Traverse City manager Gregg Langbehn said Dunn has evolved his game in his four Frontier League seasons.
“He was all-out, max effort, he it comes,” Langbehn said of the former reliever who used to throw as high as 94 mph earlier in his TC career. “He understands and realizes that he doesn’t have that velocity anymore. And that’s OK. We’ve talked at length the last two years that you don’t have to throw 90-94 to get people out. It’s about locating and pitching and working ahead in counts. He’s really made great adjustments as a pitcher, not a thrower.”
It was also the 20th career win for Dunn as a Beach Bum, joining Gehring and David Nathanson as the only pitchers to accomplish the feat.
“My team had my back defensively,” Dunn said. “They were making plays. I just kept throwing strikes and let them beat them into the ground. And then our bats came on fire all the sudden. There’s not much more a pitcher can ask for.”
Traverse City (14-11) took a 2-0 lead in the third as Jose Vargas and Chase Burch cracked back-to-back RBI singles to bring in Ryan Still and Taylor Wrenn. The Slammers (11-14) returned the favor with a two-run fifth on RBI doubles by David Christiansen and Nick Akins. That inning was ended when a Ben Hewett line drive to first ricocheted off the glove of Burch and Still was able to bare-hand the loose ball and throw to Dunn covering first.
The Beach Bums didn’t waste time getting the lead back, as Burch slammed a two-run homer down the left-field line. TC added another run when new acquisition Carlo Testa reached on a Marquis Riley error, stole second and came in on Zach Kometani’s ground-rule double to center.
Traverse City busted open a 5-2 game in the eighth.
The Bums batted around before there was a single out.
“The lead wasn’t comfortable,” Langbehn said. “It’s never comfortable until it’s over. We had some good at-bats and capitalized on some walks.”
Testa started off the inning with a walk and came home on Kometani’s two-run homer. Kometani kept up his hot hitting streak. In the last two games alone, the Hawaii native has six hits, two doubles, two home runs and eight RBIs. He has 12 hits in his last five contests.
Marcus Nidiffer and Matt Howard walked, D’Marcus Ingram singled and Ryan Still walked in Nidiffer. Taylor Wrenn drove in two with a ground-rule double and Vargas brought in two more with a single for a 12-2 bulge. Burch walked to go through the Bums order without an out.
The Bums’ eight-inning surge gave Wrenn a shot at extending his hitting streak to 18 games. After a groundout left him hitless through seven — and the team leading 5-3, which would likely mean no need to bat in the ninth — it didn’t look good.
Dunn went six innings, striking out four and giving up only four hits and two walks. Chris Squires came on for two innings without allowing a base runner, including striking out the side in the seventh. Nick Capito closed it out with a 1-2-3 ninth that featured two whiffs.
PINCH HITS: Former Beach Bums player Kyle Maunus was greeted in his first at-bat with a Britney Spears song intro. ... Maunus was robbed in that at-bat on a sharp liner down the third-base line, as Vargas made a terrific play by snagging the shot and just barely throwing out Maunus from his knees. Maunus was the “bubbles” batter in the 9th, greeted by a SpongeBob sound bite, and was once again robbed, this time by a stellar Wrenn play at short, ranging far to his left... Prior to the game, the team announced it had released long-time reliever Scott Mueller and signed Testa. Mueller had struggled most of the season, and had a 7.56 ERA in seven appearances. Since back-to-back All-Star selections in 2010 and 2011, Mueller’s ERA increased to 4.43 last season, and Matt Miller took the closer’s job late in the season. ... Shortstop Andrew Cohn should be back in late June or early July, while outfielder Scott Woodward is expected to see a specialist in early July to re-examine the right hand he had surgery on for a broken knuckle.