Jordan Cooper continued his dominance early on this season, tossing seven outstanding innings where he only allowed two unearned runs in a 3-2 victory over the Cleburne Railroaders. T.J. Mittelstaedt’s clutch two-out single put the Wichita Wingnuts back on top after the Railroaders had tied the score in the top of the fifth, and Seth Harvey earned his fifth save of the season.
Cooper was opposed by Jorge Martinez and both starters pitched extremely well. The Wingnuts starter allowed just two hits through the first three frames, while Martinez was perfect through the first third of the game.
In the bottom of the fourth, Wichita would finally get their first hit of the game and would take the lead. Harrison Kain started out the inning by lining a single into center field and he moved to second on a walk to Christian Stringer. Two batters later, Matt Chavez singled to right, scoring Kain and it was 1-0. An opposite field single by Zac Fisher scored Stringer to extend the lead to two.
The Railroaders responded right away in the top of the fifth. Axel Johnson led off the inning with a single down the line in right and he moved to second on a walk to K.C. Huth. Brandon Tierney then attempted to lay down a bunt, but Cooper pounced on the sacrifice attempt and fired the ball to third to nail the lead runner. The throw was in time, but the Wichita third baseman could not hold onto the ball and Tierney was safe on the error. With the bases loaded and no one out, Maikol Gonzalez beat out a ground ball for a single to score Johnson. Next up was Ermindo Escobar, who grounded back to Cooper. He fired home to nail the lead runner to keep this a one-run Wichita lead. Geraldo Valentin grounded into a fielder’s choice that scored Tierney and the game was tied.
It did not stay that way for very long as the Wingnuts did a little responding of their own in the bottom of the fifth. Richard Prigatano singled to start the frame and he moved to third when Harrison Kain grounded a single up the middle two batters later. Martinez was able to retire Stringer, but Mittelstaedt came through, singling into right field to score Prigatano to give Wichita back the lead.
Jordan Cooper (3-0) would find himself in a little trouble in the seventh when he gave up a single and a walk with two down, but ended the threat by getting Valentin to fly out. The Wingnuts starter went 7-innings, allowing 5-hits and 2-unearned runs. He walked 3 and struck out 3.
James Campbell pitched a scoreless eighth, and the team brought Seth Harvey on in the ninth. He would earn his fifth save of the season, thanks to a foolish mistake on the base paths by the Railroaders. With Huth on first and one down, Shawn Zarraga single into left field. Huth originally stopped at second, but when Brennen Salgado bobbled the ball for a moment he decided to go for third and was easily gunned down. Gonzalez then flew out to end the game.
Harrison Kain was 3-4 with a run scored in the game, raising his average to .361. Axel Johnson was 2-4 with a run scored for Cleburne.
The rubber match of this three-game set is tomorrow at 1:00. Tyler Kane (5-1, 3.72) will go for Wichita. He will be opposed by Patrick Mincey (5-0, 1.85).
Featured Image by Ed Bailey
By Robert Pannier