Dunn strong, hitters stronger in Wild Things rout of Rockford
Lost somewhere in the gaudy offensive numbers put up Friday by the Wild Things in a 12-0 thumping of the Rockford Aviators was perhaps the most significant development of the night.
Washington starting pitcher Scott Dunn threw 6 1/3 splendid shutout innings.
Fresh off a seven-day stint on the disabled list with shoulder tightness after a rocky start last week at Southern Illinois, Dunn was back in top form against Rockford. The Frontier League Pitcher of the Year last season with Traverse City, Dunn worked fast, threw strikes and barely broke a sweat.
In other words, the vintage version of Dunn resurfaced on the all-turf mound at Consol Energy Park. And it couldn’t have happened at a better time for Washington, which entered the night tied for first place with Evansville in the Frontier League’s East Division.
Dunn allowed only three singles and one walk. He struck out five. Just one Rockford batter managed to reach scoring position against Dunn, who improved his record to 5-3.
Dunn combined with three relievers on a three-hitter, and Washington’s hitters broke open a close game nine runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Each of the first nine Wild Things hitters in the eighth reached base and scored.
Second baseman Garrett Rau led a 12-hit attack by going 3-for-5 with two doubles and four RBI. Designated hitter C.J. Beatty hit his league-leading 16th home run in the eighth. Scott Kalamar also homered and Ryan Kresky drove in two runs.
Rockford helped Washington along the way by issuing seven walks, throwing five wild pitches and committing four errors.
The Wild Things took a 2-0 lead in the second against Rockford starter Kyle Bruggerman (5-3). First baseman William Beckwith, who scored two runs and stole two bases, singled, advanced on a passed ball and groundout, and scored when Garrett Rau hit his first double.
Catcher Jim Vahalik followed with a well-placed shot over the first-base bag that rolled into the right-field corner and went for a triple that scored Rau and gave Washington a 2-0 lead. It was only the fourth career triple in 618 career plate appearances in the Frontier League for Vahalik.
Dunn protected the two-run lead as he retired the first nine Rockford hitters and allowed multiple baserunners in only one inning. After giving up consecutive singles to Tanner Witt and Brian Bistagne to open the fourth, Dunn got of the jam by inducing an inning-ending double play off the bat of Edgar Corcino.
Right fielder Scott Kalamar pushed Washington’s lead to 3-0 when he hit a solo homer leading off the sixth. The shot hugged the right-field line and crossed the wall just inside the foul pole. It was Kalamar’s fifth home run in his last 26 games after not hitting a homer in his first 85 games with Washington.
Washington tacked on nine runs in the bottom of eighth against reliever Tony Butler and Brad Gerig, the latter an outfielder who was brought in to get the final three outs. Butler, a 6-7 lefty who was pitching in a professional game for the first time since 2012, had the first seven batters he faced reach base, including four on walks.
Beatty hit a three-run homer to left centerfield off Gerig as the 12-run loss doubled Rockford’s previous largest margin of defeat.
Relief pitcher Al Yevoli, matt Prunell and Tyler Elrod followed Dunn with 2 2/3 hitless innings with five strikeouts.
The win was the 41st of the year for the Wild Things (41-25) and equaled last year’s victory total. … Prior to the game, Washington traded starting pitcher Alex Kaminsky (2-5, 4.97) to the Joliet Slammers in exchange for a second-round draft pick next year and released second baseman Sam Montgomery (.211). The Wild Things also signed 24-year-old first baseman Dan Johnston (6-4, 200), who played college ball at Pacific in 2011 and ’12 but has no pro experience. Johnston was drafted by the Marlins in the 46th round in 2010 but did not sign. … Former Wild Things relief pitcher Mark Williams (2011), who was having a big season a closer for the Milwaukee Brewers’ Brevard County affiliate in the Class A Florida State League, was suspended for 50 games Friday after testing positive for amphetamines. Williams has a 1-0 record with 10 saves and a 1.61 ERA.