The Wichita Wingnuts find themselves on their longest road trip of the season, forced to vacate Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. After playing four in Laredo just prior to the All-Star break, the club headed east to begin 10 games against Can-Am League teams. Wednesday they opened with the New Jersey Jackals, and thanks to a four-run ninth inning rally, the club came back to win 4-2.
The Jackals were in complete control of this game from the very start. Brian Ernst started for New Jersey looking for his first win of the season in his third start. Ernst had pitched brilliantly in his first two starts, allowing just three earned runs, but all he had to show for it was a loss.
On Wednesday night the right-hander allowed a lone single in the first three innings, while striking out four. In the fourth inning David Espinosa led off with a walk and T.J. Mittelstaedt followed with a single that put two runners on with no one out, but Ernst retired the side without either runner advancing at all.
In the fifth two more runners reached base, but Harrison Kain was thrown out trying to steal before Jayce Ray grounded out to the end the threat. Ernst allowed a single walk over the next two innings, and left the game leading 2-0.
In 7 innings of work the righty allowed 3 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 5. He threw 102 pitches, and lowered his ERA to 1.53.
Brandon Sisk relieved in the eighth and allowed a double to Ray, but he struck out the side to keep the Wingnuts off the scoreboard, and maintain the two-run lead.
Ernst had done his job on the mound, as had Sisk, and they were staked to a lead from the very first inning. In the bottom of the first inning Peter Mooney led off with a triple and scored on a squeeze play by Anthony Gomez to make it 1-0. In the bottom of the sixth Mooney got another rally started, singling to begin the frame, and scoring on a double by Gomez. That extended the lead to two.
That was all the runs that Tim Brown would allow. The Wichita Wingnuts starter looked brilliant as well, having his best outing since June 12. Over his 8 innings of work Brown (8-1) allowed 7 hits, a walk and 2 earned runs. He struck out 2, and was very efficient with his pitches, throwing 107, 71 of which were strikes.
Brown had pitched a beauty, but it looked like his effort was going to be wasted. The Wichita offense simply had no answers against the Jackals pitchers, but that changed in the ninth.
Hector Nelo came on to close out the game and immediately walked Joash Brodin on four pitches. That brought Matt Padgett to the plate, who worked the count full before blasting his fourth home run of the season to tie the score. Back-to-back singles by John Nester and Harrison Kain gave the Wingnuts the lead, and Kain scored on an error after Ray singled. That made it 4-2.
In the ninth Dakota Watts relieved looking to close out the game. The Wingnuts closer retired the Jackals in order for his ninth save of the season. The late rally made a winner of Brown.
Ray had three hits for the Wichita Wingnuts. Kain was 2-4 with a run scored. Mooney was 2-4 with 2 runs scored for New Jersey.
By Robert Pannier