The Kansas City T-Bones have not made it to the postseason in seven seasons, but that run looks like it is about to come to an end as the T-Bones crushed the Wichita Wingnuts on Friday night, 12-6, giving them a magic number of just one game to clinch the final playoff spot in the South Division. Adrian Nieto led the way with 3-hits, including his sixth home run of the season and Barrett Astin earned his 10th victory of the year.
The Kansas City T-Bones would jump out in front in bottom of the first-inning against Wichita starter Seth Harvey. Mason Davis, who had three hits in the contest, singled with one out and moved to second when Todd Cunningham drew a walk. Two batters later, Noah Perio, Jr. singled up the middle, scoring both Davis and Cunningham to put the T-Bones up by two.
Wichita responded right away in the top the second. Tony Thomas led off with a single and moved to third when Chase Simpson doubled down the line in left. Both runners came home on a John Nester single to tie the game at two.
It would stay that way until the third when Kansas City would retake the lead. Ryan Brett started the inning with a single but was replaced on a fielder’s choice when Davis attempted to sacrifice him over to second. Davis moved to third on an error and scored on a two out base hit by Colin Walsh to put the T-Bones up 3-2.
In the fourth, Kansas City would blow this game open. Nieto led off with a ground rule double before Danny Hayes walked. A fielder’s choice by Alay Lago put runners at the corners with one out and Keith Curcio followed with a single, bringing Nieto in to extend the lead to two. A single by Brett loaded the bases for Davis, who grounded a single up the middle, scoring both Lago and Curcio.
That brought a call to the bullpen, as James Campbell came in, but he was unable to stop the bleeding. Cunningham was hit by pitch to reload the bases before Walsh walked to drive home Brett. A fielder’s choice brought home Davis and Nieto cleared the bases with a three run homer, his sixth of the year. That extended the T-Bones lead to 11-2.
Wichita would get two of those runs back in the top of the fifth. Logan Trowbridge singled with one out before Leo Vargas walked. Both runners moved up on a passed ball and Trowbridge scored on a ground out by Logan Watkins. Vargas came home on a double to right by Zach Nehrir to cut the deficit to seven.
Kansas City responded with a run in the bottom half of the inning. Curcio tripled to the wall in center with one out and scored on a two out base hit by Davis.
Wichita would get that run right back in the top of the sixth. Angel Reyes singled to start the frame and moved to second on a stolen base. He scored on a base hit by Tony Thomas to pull Wichita back within seven.
Barrett Astin (10-3) came out after six. He allowed five runs while striking out six. The Kansas City bullpen did a fine job, with Joe Filomeno and Nick Lee each tossing a scoreless frame.
In the ninth, Kansas City sent in closer Cody Winiarski looking to finish off the contest. He struck out the first batter before giving up a base hit to Watkins. Two batters later, Abel Nieves drove home Watkins to pull the Wingnuts within six, but they would get no closer.
Adrian Nieto and Mason Davis each went 3-4 with 3-RBI. Davis scored 3-runs while Nieto scored 2. Wichita was led by Tony Thomas, who was 3-4 with a run and an RBI.
The loss dropped the Wichita Wingnuts 2.5 games behind Kansas City for the final playoff spot in the South. Both teams have three games left, with the Wingnuts beginning a three-game series on Saturday night with the Sioux City Explorers while the T-Bones travel to Indiana to take on the Gary Southshore RailCats.
By Robert Pannier