On Wesnesday night, the New Jersey Jackals watched their starter dominate the Wichita Wingnuts only to see the game fall apart in the ninth inning. This was not happening on this night, however. The Jackals got six outstanding innings from Anthony Claggett and three relievers pitched perfect innings to give the home team a 4-1 victory.
Claggett was opposed by Jason Van Skike, and both pitchers kept the game scoreless through the first two frames, but in the third New Jersey grabbed a lead. Van Skike retired the first hitter of the inning, but then issued back-to-back walks to Tony Caldwell and Peter Mooney. Anthony Gomez then lined a single up the middle that scored Caldwell and the home team had a 1-0 lead.
In the fourth the Jackals extended the lead. Leandro Castro began the inning with his first home run of the year to make it a two-run lead. Two batters later Jamal Austin singled and Matt Helms sent him home when he singled and an error allowed Austin to score. A wild pitch moved Helms to third and he scored on a sacrifice fly by Caldwell to make it 4-0.
Claggett was pitching incredibly well. He had allowed six singles and a walk through the first five frames, but had kept the Wichita Wingnuts from getting any key hits to keep an inning alive. It was a truly masterful performance. In the top of the sixth the Wingnuts finally got a run on the board when Matt Padgett delivered his fifth home run of the season. That would be the only run that Claggett (1-1) would allow.
From there the bullpen took over. Alex Powers and Donnie Joseph each pitched a scoreless inning, with Joseph striking out the side in the eighth. In the ninth the club turned to Hector Nelo. He had been rocked by the Wingnuts the night before, but on this night he was perfect, striking out the final two batters he faced for his third save of the season.
Van Skike (6-3) took the loss despite the fact that he pitched quite well. In 5 innings of work the right-hander allowed just 4 hits and 4 walks. He also allowed 4 runs, but only 2 were earned.
Padgett and Jayce Ray each had two hits for the Wingnuts. Four different New Jersey Jackals had a lone hit. Caldwell had an RBI and a run scored.
By Robert Pannier