The Wichita Wingnuts were looking for a little freedom from the rut that they had been in, and July 4th proved to be just the right day for such freedom to occur, as right-hander Charlie Gillies allowed five hits over eight innings, striking out 11 as Wichita downed the Lincoln Saltdogs, 8-1. John Nester and Ryne Willard each homered to help pace the offense as Wichita snapped their four-game losing streak.
After a scoreless first inning, the Wichita Wingnuts would jump out in front in the bottom of the second. With one down, John Nester got the fireworks started early by blasting his second home run of the season. Ryne Willard followed with a base hit and he scored when Leo Vargas doubled with two down in the inning. That made it 2-0 Wingnuts.
In the fourth, Wichita extended their lead to three. Tyler Herron retired the first batter of the inning, but then gave up a Willard home run, his third of the season, to extend the lead to three.
Charlie Gillies came out on fire. He gave up a leadoff base hit but struck out two in the first to get out of the frame. Through the first five innings the right-hander was in complete command, allowing just two hits. He struck out eight during that span.
In the sixth, Lincoln would finally get a little rally going. Ivan Marin reached on an error to start the inning. With two down, TJ Bennett singled up the middle. The centerfielder misplayed the ball, allowing Marin to score to make it, 3-1.
Wichita responded right away in the bottom of the sixth. Abel Nieves singled to start the inning and scored when Tony Thomas drilled a ball off the center field wall for a triple. A double by Nester brought home Thomas to give the Wingnuts a four run lead.
The Wingnuts would blow the game open in the bottom of the eighth. Thomas beat out a ground ball to start the inning before Nester walked. Willard attempted to lay down a sacrifice, but a wild throw allowed him to reach second and for both runners to score. Two batters later, Vargas lined a single in the center that scored Willard to make it 8-1.
Charlie Gillies (4-1) came out after eight. He allowed 5-hits and one unearned run while striking out a season-high 11. Austin Boyle came on in the ninth to finish off the game.
John Nester finished 2-3 with 2-runs and 2-RBI and Ryne Willard was 2-3 with 3-runs and an RBI. Tony Thomas had 2-hits and scored 2-runs. Leo Vargas also had 2-hits and drove in two.
The rubber match is scheduled for Thursday evening. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier