Jon Link Wins Sixth Straight as Wichita Wingnuts Hold on for 5-4 Win
For seven innings Saturday night, it looked like the Wichita Wingnuts had their game against the Sioux City Explorers in hand. However, a late rally turned a three-run Wichita lead into a one-run game and the Wingnuts held on for the 5-4 victory. The win gave starter Jon Link his sixth victory in a row.
The Explorers jumped out in front in the top of the first inning against Link. Michael Lang walked with one out and stole second. Two batters later Nate Samson singled to right field to score Lang and it was 1-0.
In true Wingnuts fashion, the team responded right away in the bottom half of the inning. Sioux City starter James Walsh retired the first two batters of the inning, but a single by Brent Clevlen kept the inning alive. T.J. Mittelstaedt drew a walk and Dustin Geiger followed with a double to the wall in left field that scored both runners to give the Wingnuts the lead.
It would stay that way until the third when Wichita extended their lead to four. Christian Stringer started off the inning with a single and scored when Brent Clevlen drilled his eighth homerun of the season over the left field wall to make it 4-1. Next up was T.J. Mittelstaedt, who drilled his seventh homerun of the season to make it a 5-1 game.
Following the first inning run, Link was outstanding over the next four innings. He allowed lone singles in each of the innings, and in the fourth and fifth he induced double plays to quickly end each frame.
In the sixth, the Explorers would finally get back on the board. Noah Perio singled to begin the inning and moved to second on a single by Samson. A walk to Tommy Mendonca loaded the bases and there was still no one out. Link then struck out Jarek Cunningham for the first out of the inning. Tim Colwell followed with a ground out that scored Perio, but the Wingnuts starter ended the inning with another strike out.
Link (6-2) would be done after 6-innings. The big right-hander allowed 8-hits, 2-walks, and 2-earned runs, while striking out 4.
Fabian Roman would hold the lead in the seventh, but in the eighth Sioux City plated two against Seth Harvey. Samson doubled with one out, and scored when Mendonca’s hit bounced over the wall for a ground rule double. Two batters later Colwell tripled to the wall in left to score Mendonca. With the tying run just 90-feet away, Matt Koch popped out to first to end the inning.
In the ninth, the Wingnuts sent Chad Nading in to close it out. He would allow a two-out single but closed the game out for his first save of the season.
Clevlen finished 2-3 with 2-runs and 2-RBI. Mittelstaedt was 1-3 with 2-runs and an RBI. Geiger drove in two. Leo Vargas also had 2-hits.
For the Explorers, Samson was a perfect 4-4 at the plate with a run and an RBI. Mendonca was 2-3 with a run and an RBI. Colwell drove in two and had two hits.
With their series concluded, the Sioux City Explorers head home to host the Laredo Lemurs. The Wichita Wingnuts have Sunday off.
By Robert Pannier