Brent Clevlen Leads Wichita Wingnuts to 12-2 Thumping of Blasters
The lessons are coming hard and fast at Wingnuts University these days, and it is returning Dean Brent Clevlen who is, once again, providing the deepest lessons of them all. The Wichita Wingnuts outfielder drove in five Saturday night, and rapped out three-hits, including hitting two homeruns, in leading his team to a 12-2 victory over the Joplin Blasters, giving the team 19 victories in their last 24 ballgames.
This was a game that the Blasters actually led early. Right-hander Eddie Medina returned to the rotation and he was brilliant for Wichita. However, Joplin was able to get a run early in the contest. Oscar Mesa led off the bottom of the first by reaching on an error. He then moved to second on a sacrifice and scored on a double by Charlie Valerio.
The lead would hold through the second as Raul Rivera was solid through the first two innings, but in the third the Wingnuts would grab the lead and not relinquish it. Christian Stringer singled to start the inning and, two batters later, Clevlen crushed a Rivera offering for his 10th homer of the season to give Wichita the lead. Later in the inning, Harrison Kain would single to score Martin Medina and it was 3-1 Wingnuts.
In the fifth, the Wichita Wingnuts began to pull away. Zack Cox led off the inning and extended the lead with one swing of the bat, hitting his third homer of the year to make it 4-1. A walk to Clevlen and a double by T.J. Mittelstaedt proceeded Martin being hit by a pitch. That loaded the bases and there was no one out. Rivera was reeling, but he looked like he was going to pull a Houdini, striking out the next batter and getting a force at the plate to leave the bases loaded but there were now two outs. Brennen Salgado came to the plate looking to deliver a huge two-out hit and he did just that, taking a 2-2 offering and ripping it to right-center to score two runs and make it a 6-1 game.
In the top of the sixth the Wingnuts all but put the game away. Stringer and Cox started the frame with back-to-back walks and that would be it for Rivera. Keith Picht took over but had no treatment to stop the bleeding. The Joplin reliever threw a wild pitch to move the runners up, but then struck out Clevlen. Mittelstaedt was intentionally walked to bring Martin to the plate. He quickly fell behind 0-2, but another wild pitch would bring in two runs and it was 8-1.
Joplin would get a run back in the seventh. Geraldo Valentin singled to start the inning and scored when Tyler Shannon singled to right field later in the frame. That made it 8-2.
That is as close as it would get, as the Wingnuts kept pouring it on. In the top of the eighth, Martin singled home Clevlen to extend the lead to seven again. In the top of the ninth, three more runs would score. Stringer walked with one out and Cox followed with a single to put two on. That brought Clevlen to the plate who ripped the first pitch he saw from Axel Johnson for a three-run homer, his 11th of the year. That made the score 12-2. For the day, Clevlen was 3-5 with 3-runs scored and 5-RBI.
The onslaught was the perfect reward for Medina (1-3), who pitched an absolute gem for the Wingnuts. He went 7-innings, allowing 6-hits and 2-walks. Of the 2-runs that scored against him, only one was earned. He also struck out 2.
Besides Clevlen, several other Wingnuts had big days. Cox was also 3-5 and scored 3-runs. He drove in another. Stringer scored three times. Valentin had 3-hits for the Blasters.
The two teams conclude their three-game series on Sunday, as the Wichita Wingnuts go for the sweep. Tim Brown (4-2, 5.77) goes for Wichita against Carlos Fuentes (0-2, 3.40). Game time is 5:05.
By Robert Pannier