The Wichita Wingnuts entered Monday night’s contest against the Winnipeg Goldeyes wondering if their playoff chances were slowly dwindling away after being swept by the Chicago Dogs. After falling behind by two those hopes were dashing, but a four run third and six outstanding innings by starter Casey Harman helped to propel the Wingnuts to a 5-3 victory. The victory moved the team within 2.5 games of the idle Kansas City T-Bones for the final playoff position in the South Division.
This was a great pitching matchup between two lefties, as Winnipeg Goldeyes starter Kevin McGovern was matching Wichita Wingnuts starter Casey Harman pitch-for-pitch through the first three innings. Winnipeg loaded the bases on two hits and a walk in the first but came away empty-handed, and then Harman retired the side in order in the second and third. McGovern gave up two hits in the first as well, then gave up only a single in the third as the only blemishes against the Winnipeg lefty early on.
In the fourth, the Goldeyes would finally breakthrough. Josh McAdams led off with a double and moved to third on a single by Tucker Nathans. John Mazzola hit a ball to left that was caught, bringing home McAdams to make it 1-0. A single by Jordan Ebert put two on and Blake Adams loaded the bases when he was hit by a pitch. Gavin Stupienski’s sacrifice fly brought home Nathans to extend the lead to two.
The Wichita Wingnuts would respond to take the lead in the bottom half of the frame. Tony Thomas singled into left-center with one down, then stole second. Chase Simpson walked and Thomas came home when John Nester ripped a pitch for a base hit into left. Logan Trowbridge was the next batter, and he ripped a pitch that hit off the wall inches from a home run. Trowbridge raced into second with a double as Simpson came home to tie the score. Leo Vargas then blooped a ball down the line in right that dropped in. Both runners came home to give Wichita the 4-2 lead.
An inning later, the Wingnuts extended their lead. Zach Nehrir singled to start the inning and moved to second on a stolen base. Two batters later Angel Reyes walked. With two down, Simpson hit a little flare into right-center that the Goldeyes second baseman moved back on. He was able to get his glove on it, but could not make the catch. The ball dropped in for a hit, with Nehrir coming home to make it 5-2.
Casey Harman (10-4) earned his 10th victory of the season, allowing 6-hits in 6-innings. He struck out 8 while walking 2.
Winnipeg would get one of those runs back in the top of the eighth. Josh Mazzola singled with one down and moved to third on a base hit by Blake Adams two batters later. A double brought home Mazzola to make it 5-3.
In the ninth, Daniel Tillman came on looking to close the game out for Wichita. He gave up a leadoff double to Josh Romanski and a feeling of dread seemed to fall over the stadium. However, Tillman struck out Reggie Abercrombie and Josh McAdams before getting Tucker Nathans to foul out to end the game. That was the 25th save of the season for the Wichita closer.
Zach Nehrir went 3-4 with a run scored to lead the Wichita Wingnuts offense. Josh Romanski was 2-5.
These two teams will square off again on Tuesday. Jordan Cooper (9-6, 4.91) will go for the Wingnuts. He will be opposed by PJ Browne (0-0, 3.62). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier