7-Run 1st Backs Scott Richmond’s 6th Win in a Row, Wichita Wingnuts Roll 11-2
When the Wichita Wingnuts officially clinch a playoff spot, Scott Richmond will be named the Game 1 starter. He showed why Thursday night, scattering 5 hits over 6 innings to record his sixth straight win, as his team staked him to an early seven-run lead before winning 11-2. The six strikeout performance saw his ERA lower to 1.79 and he looks in prime form to help the Wingnuts repeat as American Association champions.
After Richmond retired the Amarillo Thunderheads in the top of the first inning, the Wingnuts bats went to work against Amarillo starter Tyler Pearson. Nick Van Stratten led off the bottom of the first with a solo home run, his second of the season. That was a sign of how bad things were about to become.
Following a fly out, Brent Clevlen doubled and Andy LaRoche walked to put two on with one out. T.J. Mittelstaedt followed with a single to load the bases and bring up catcher John Nester. He missed on his first cut, but then ripped a double that cleared the bases to make it 4-0. Harrison Kain followed the three-run double with a single that moved Nester to third. He then stole second before Oldham walked to load the bases for the second time in the inning. Leo Vargas was hit by pitch driving Nester home, and Van Stratten, the tenth man to bat in the inning, hit a sacrifice fly to score Kain. Jayce Ray’s ground rule double brought home Oldham and the Wingnuts were quickly up 7-0.
In all Wichita send 12 men to the plate in the inning. They recorded seven runs on six hits. Van Stratten had a home run and a sacrifice fly in the first inning rally.
In the third Wichita extended their lead. Van Stratten led off the inning by beating out an infield single and moved to third on Clevlen’s second double of the game. LaRoche then grounded out, scoring Van Stratten to make it 8-0.
Through the first four innings Richmond was dominating. He allowed just three hits, all doubles, while striking out four. In the fifth the Thunderheads were finally able to muster a run. With one out Jordan Guida hit his second home run of the season to make it 8-1.
If that gave Amarillo any hopes that they may battle back, that quickly came to an end in the bottom of the sixth. LaRoche got the frame going with a single, and advanced to second when Mittelstaedt reached on an error. Nester then drove in his fourth run of the game with a double and the two runners scored on a single by Kain. That made it 11-1.
Christian Ibarra hit his eighth home run of the season in the seventh to close out the scoring, but this game was over long before then.
Richmond (6-1) finished with 7 innings pitched, allowing 5 hits, a walk and an earned run, while striking out 6. Pearson (5-6) took the loss.
Several Wichita Wingnuts players had big days at the plate. Van Stratten was 3-4 with 2 runs and 2 RBI. Clevlen also had 3 hits and he scored a run. LaRoche was 1-3 with 2 runs scored, an RBI and a walk. Nester drove in 4, scored twice and had 2 hits. Mittelstaedt and Kain also each had 2 hits. Kain scored a run and drove in 2 others and Mittelstaedt scored twice.
The victory moved the Wingnuts magic number to clinch the South Division to just one game.
By Robert Pannier