It is a truly great man who learns from the successes of others and finds a way to apply it to his own life. That is what we saw out of Wichita Wingnuts Manager Brent Clevlen on Saturday night, as he employed the same kind of tactics used by the Cleburne Railroaders two nights earlier to help his team prevail in a 3-1 victory. Two stolen bases and two sacrifice bunts helped to generate the victory, and John Nester blasted his fourth home run of the season to give Wichita the lead after surrendering it in the top of the eighth. Nester finished with two hits and two RBI.
This was a great pitcher’s duel between Cleburne starter Dylan Mouzakes and Wichita starter Travis Banwart. Each team had their opportunity to get on the board through the first two frames as the Railroaders put two on in the second but came away empty-handed and the Wingnuts had two on in each of the first two innings but were unable to get a run across home plate.
The Wichita Wingnuts would break the scoreless drought in the bottom of the third. Zach Nehrir led off with a walk and stole both second and third. It looked like he would remain stranded, but a John Nester double just over the head of leftfielder Trevor Sealey gave Wichita the lead.
Banwart continued to shine through his six innings of work. Even when he found himself in trouble, the Wichita starter delivered key pitches is to deny Cleburne any opportunity to get on the board. Banwart came out after six, allowing five hits and no runs.
Seth Harvey took over in the seventh and tossed a scoreless frame, but the Railroaders would get on the board in the top of the eighth. Sealey led off with a base hit down the line in right and moved to second on a sacrifice. Chase Simpson followed with a single into right, bringing home the speedy Sealey to tie the game at one.
It looked like another great outing by Banwart was going to be wasted, but the Wichita Wingnuts responded with two runs in the bottom of the eighth. Nester led off the inning by crushing an 0-1 pitch over the wall in left field for his fourth home run of the season. Logan Trowbridge followed with a deep flyball that bounced off the turf and over the wall for a ground rule double. He moved to third on a sacrifice before Nick Rotola walked. With runners at first and third and one down, Rotola stole second. Leo Vargas then drilled a ball down the first base line that Patrick Palmeiro made an incredible play, moving to his left to snag it out of the air for the second out of the inning. That brought Logan Watkins to the plate, who laid down a perfect bunt. Trowbridge scored with Watkins reaching first to extend the lead to two.
Daniel Tillman came on in the ninth and retired all three batters he faced. That gave him his 15th save of the season, tied for tops in the American Association.
John Nester finished 2-4 with a run and 2-RBI. Chase Simpson had two hits and drew walk for Cleburne.
The final contest of this four-game series is set for Sunday afternoon. The Wichita Wingnuts send left-hander Casey Harman (6-2, 3.34) to the hill. He will be opposed by Michael Gunn (2-2, 2.89). First pitch is scheduled for 1:05.
By Robert Pannier