TRAVERSE CITY — Mike Dunn didn’t have his best performance of the year on Tuesday night.
But it might have been his gutsiest.
Battling a nasty sinus infection, Dunn was able to get through six innings with only two runs and six hits allowed as he improved to 7-0 on the season in a 10-2 Beach Bums victory over Schaumburg in the opener of a three-game set at Wuerfel Park.
“I just went out there and did it. I can’t tell you (how),” said Dunn, who walked two and struck out three. “That’s the edge on me, I guess. I’m just a fighter. I’ll fight through anything. It’s spreading (the illness). Everybody on the team’s got it. It feels like my head is 1,000 pounds right now.”
So what would Dunn’s response have been if someone had told him he’d start the year undefeated after eight starts?
“I would’ve laughed,” he said. “Baseball’s funny, anything can happen. I would’ve never guessed I would be 7-0. I’m sure happy I am. I just go out there and throw strikes. Let them hit my pitches. Just like any other pitcher, you get behind and they hit their own pitches. You try to stay ahead.”
Dunn did get plenty of help to get through the night. The Beach Bums (22-12) made a few big plays defensively and got their bats going in the fourth inning and scored 10 unanswered runs over the next five innings. The win was Traverse City’s 11th in the last 12 games.
The biggest defensive play for the Beach Bums came in the top of the sixth inning as Schaumburg (20-15) had the bases loaded and only one out. But Dunn got Brian McConkey to ground out in an inning-ending double play on a come-backer to the mound. Dunn got the lead runner out at the plate and catcher Marcus Nidiffer threw McConkey out at first to keep Traverse City in the lead, 4-2.
“That was a relief,” Dunn said of working out of the jam. “I threw the dirtiest two-seamer I’ve ever thrown in my life. (McConkey) got on top of it and fizzed it over to me. I swiped the sweat that was on my brow. Couldn’t have asked for a better pitch, both location and for him to hit it to me.”
Traverse City manager Gregg Langbehn wasn’t surprised that Dunn was able to throw the way he did.
“He threw awesome. He’s been awesome all year,” said Langbehn. “That’s what he does, limits the big innings. Gets the double play with the bases loaded. Gets the 1-2-3 double play. From an offensive standpoint you never think that’s gonna happen. You just want to stay out of the double play, period. Scott made a great pitch. He threw a two-seam fastball away, the guy rolled over a bit and hit it back to Scott. He took his time throwing it to the plate and Marcus (Nidiffer) converted on the back end. Our defense has been great all year.”
That includes a catch at the warning track in right field by Sean Gusrang in the third inning and an over-the-shoulder catch in left field by Carlo Testa in the second inning.
“I actually made it look harder than it should’ve been,” said Testa. “I got a decent read on it. I didn’t think it was going to carry as far. I got a late step back, but I got to it. It was a good hit, he squared up pretty good so I’m glad I got back there for it. We’ve definitely been holding it down defensively since I’ve got here. Our defense is doing really good. The middle of the infield rarely gets anything through. We get more double plays than I’ve seen in a long time. Defensively, it’s not really surprising to make those plays.”
Testa also was part of Traverse City’s offensive surge that began in the bottom of the fourth, just after the Boomers had taken a 2-0 lead in the top of the inning. Testa slugged a two-run double to score Chase Burch and Zach Kometani that tied the game and Nidiffer gave the Beach Bums the lead for good with an RBI single that scored Testa.
Traverse City added three runs in the sixth, two in the seventh and one in the eighth. Home runs were a large part of that output as Taylor Wrenn jacked a three-run bomb in the sixth and Gusrang had a solo shot in the seventh. Jose Vargas had an RBI double in the eighth.
“Offensively we’ve kind of settled in, I’d say,” said Langbehn. “We’re producing runs and that’s all we’ve ever talked about here. We don’t care about batting averages. We care about producing runs. They bunched them together tonight.”
Gusrang’s three hits led the Beach Bums. Vargas, Kometani and Testa chipped in two hits apiece.
Chris Squires pitched three hitless innings to close to close out the win.
Traverse City will send out Jacob Clem (4-3) to pitch Wednesday’s 7 p.m. game. Matt Kuna (2-0) will start on the mound for Schaumburg.