Billy Waltrip Brings the Wiff as Texas AirHogs Win 9-3
The Wichita Wingnuts are finding that their three-week long road trip is not getting off to as good of a start as they had hoped for. For the second straight night, the Texas AirHogs dominated Wichita, this time behind Billy Waltrip who fanned 12 in five-innings of work, and Denis Phipps added 3-hits and 3-RBI to help lead the AirHogs to the 9-3 victory.
The Wingnuts grabbed the lead in the top of the first inning against Waltrip when Christian Stringer and Brent Clevlen delivered back-to-back singles with one out. T.J. Mittelstaedt followed with a double into right field that brought Stringer home and Wichita had the quick 1-0 lead. There was still second and third with one down, but Waltrip remained cool, striking out the final two batters of the inning to end the threat.
In the bottom half of the inning, Texas gave their starter the lead. Alvaro Rondon singled to begin the frame, and moved to third on a double by Casio Grider. Levi Scott then drew a walk to load the bases, and Denis Phipps brought home two with a double into left field. A groundout by Tuesday’s hero, Brian Ragira, brought home Scott and the AirHogs had the 3-1 lead against Wichita starter Tim Brown.
In the bottom of the third, Texas extended their lead to three. A single by Grider started the inning, and he moved to second on a base hit by Scott. Phipps then delivered the third straight hit of the inning, bringing Grider home to make it 4-1.
In the bottom of the fourth, the AirHogs broke this contest open and chased Brown from the game. Beamer Weems singled to start the inning and moved to second on a groundout. Trevor Sealey followed with a ground rule double that brought Weems home to extend the lead to four. A base hit by Rondon moved Sealey to third, and a sacrifice fly by Grider brought him home. Scott followed with a double to the wall in center that brought Rondon all the way around from first base to make the score 7-1. Phipps walked to put two on, and Ragira singled to bring Scott home.
That would be it for Brown, as Josh Goosen-Brown came on looking to close out the inning. He issued a walk to load the bases before giving up a base hit to Weems, the 10th batter of the inning, that brought Phipps in to make it 9-1.
Wichita got a run back in the top of the fifth inning. Richard Prigatano led off the inning with a double. Waltrip retired the next two batters, but Harrison Kain plated another run for the Wingnuts with a ground ball that he beat out for a single, scoring Prigatano on the play.
An inning later, Wichita would add another run. Kevin Hilton took over for the AirHogs and gave up back-to-back singles to Matt Chavez and Martin Medina. Prigatano was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but Hilton would get a shallow fly out and a fielder’s choice that gunned Chavez at the plate to keep the Wingnuts from getting a run. With two down, Kain drew a walk that scored Medina to make it 9-3. That is as close as Wichita would get.
Billy Waltrip (1-3) earned his first victory of the season, going 5-innings, allowing 5-hits and 2-runs. He struck out 12, including the side in the first. He would strike out at least two batters in every inning but one.
Denis Phipps finished 3-4 with a run and 3-RBI for the Texas AirHogs. Alvaro Rondon and Casio Grider each had 2-runs and 2-hits. The Wichita Wingnuts got 2-RBI from Harrison Kain.
The AirHogs will go for the sweep tomorrow. Tyler Kane (6-1, 4.37) will go for the Wichita Wingnuts. Jared Mortensen (3-1, 4.15) will go to the hill for Texas. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier