By Dennis Chase
TRAVERSE CITY —
Brooks Belter escaped early trouble and Kyle Colligan ripped three doubles, driving in three runs, as the Traverse City Beach Bums continued their torrid play at Wuerfel Park with a 9-2 Frontier League win over the Florence Freedom on Wednesday afternoon.
The victory completed a three-game sweep for the Beach Bums, now 20-4 at home.
Belter raised his record to 4-0 at Wuerfel Park.
“It’s more or less a pitcher’s park and I’ve been lucky to pitch when the wind’s blowing in,” he said.
Belter pitched out of trouble in the first two innings and then cruised until the sixth when the Freedom’s John Malloy doubled in two runs.
Florence had runners on first and third with one out in the first, and second and third with one out in the second, but came up empty-handed.
“That’s been a theme for me,” Belter said. “Usually it’s the first inning that gets me. If I can get through the first, the rest of the game can kind of go quickly.”
Belter experienced a similar slow start Friday night at Washington.
“He did the same thing there except they capitalized and scored three runs in the first,” Beach Bums manager Gregg Langbehn said. “We ended up losing the game 4-2.
“But he weathered it today. He got through it.”
Belter, who induced 14 ground outs, hit four batters.
“Most of them came on two-seam fastballs,” he said. “I just couldn’t seem to control that today. It kept running in on them.”
Traverse City, meanwhile, touched Florence starter Scott Moviel for seven runs in five innings.
After Ryan Still walked and Jose Vargas singled, Chase Burch grounded to second to score Still in the first.
In the second, Colligan doubled, took third on a grounder, and scored on a balk.
Two innings later, Colligan doubled in Burch and Jeff Flagg to make it a 4-0 game. The next batter, Sean Gusrang, after fouling a pitch off his foot, eased the pain with a two-run homer to right.
Traverse City added a run in the fifth when Vargas doubled and Flagg singled.
The Beach Bums scored two more in the seventh, one coming in a Colligan double.
Colligan’s three doubles gives him 19 on the season, tied for the league lead. Two were down the leftfield line.
“They were definitely trying to come in on me a little, but I was able to be in hitter’s counts all day,” Colligan said. “When you’re in those type of counts, you’re definitely looking for your pitch and I got it.”
Vargas also collected three hits while Flagg had two.
“I was a little worried the last two nights with the wind blowing in that it would be hard to score runs,” Langbehn said. “I was surprised we scored as many as we did, to be honest.
“And it was good to see us extend leads. We had opportunities to do it and we did it. We got a little separation.”
The Beach Bums turned three double plays behind Belter, now 7-1, including a disputed one in the first. With runners on the corners and one out, Eddie Rodriguez lifted a fly to right. Gusrang made the catch, but his throw to the plate was high and it appeared Junior Arrojo slid in safety. But the umpire ruled Arrojo missed the plate and he was called out after returning to the dugout.
Traverse City travels to Rockford for a three-game set, starting tonight. Scott Dunn (1-1) will pitch for the Beach Bums, Kyle Schepel for the RiverHawks.