Monday night opened a two-game series between two teams desperate for victories to help aid their goal of making the playoffs as the Wichita Wingnuts played host to the Gary Southshore RailCats. Thanks to six outstanding innings from Jordan Cooper and a four run sixth inning, the Wingnuts prevailed, 8-3, moving within a half game of the Kansas City T-Bones for the final spot in the South Division of the American Association.
Both teams would get on the board in the first inning as this looked like this would be a high scoring affair. In the top half of the first, Wingnuts starter Jordan Cooper retired the first two batters, but D.K. Carey kept the inning alive with a single into right field. Colin Willis followed with a grounder just inside the first base bag that rolled down into the corner. Carey came all the way around from first to score as Willis rolled into third with a stand up triple. Cooper kept the damage minimal, getting a foul out to end the inning.
The Wichita Wingnuts responded with a run in the bottom half of the inning. Logan Watkins drilled an 0-2 pitch to the wall in right that he legged out for a triple and he scored on a ground out by Zach Nehrir to tie the score at one.
The Gary Southshore RailCats responded with a run in the top of the second to retake the lead. Wilfredo Gimenez led off with a shot over the wall in left-center for his third homer of the year to make it 2-1.
The Wingnuts would retake the lead in the bottom of the second. Tony Thomas started the inning with a single and moved to second on a base hit by Chase Simpson. Both runners moved up on a double steal and Thomas scored on a sacrifice fly by Nick Rotola on a close play at the plate to tie the score. Leo Vargas followed with a base hit that brought home Simpson to give the Wingnuts the lead.
In the sixth, they would blow this game open. Nehrir and Abel Nieves led off with back-to-back singles and a base hit by Angel Reyes loaded the bases with no one out. A walk to Thomas brought home Nehrir and a sacrifice fly by Simpson plated Nieves on a very close play at the plate. A ground out by John Nester brought in the third run of the frame and Rotola followed with a triple that scored Thomas to extend the lead to 7-2.
Jordan Cooper (10-6) came out after six. The right-hander allowed 4-hits, 2-walks, and 2-runs, while striking out 6. He has allowed just three runs in his last 13.0 innings pitched.
Seth Harvey came on in the seventh, and the RailCats would get back on the board. Alex Crosby led off with a double over the head of Tony Thomas in left to start the inning. Two batters later, Cole Fabio hit a little flare into center for a base hit, putting runners at the corners with one down. A ground out by Will Savage brought Crosby home to make it 7-3.
The Wichita Wingnuts would get that run back in the bottom half of the inning. Nehrir walked to start the inning and scored when Nieves followed with a double to the wall in right-center. That extended the lead back to five.
Scott Kuzminsky came on for Wichita in the eighth and tossed two scoreless innings. He allowed 2-hits and struck out 3.
Zach Nehrir and Tony Thomas were both 1-3 with 2-runs scored and an RBI for Wichita. Abel Nieves was 2-4 with a run and an RBI. Gary Southshore was led by Will Savage who finished 2-5 with an RBI.
The second game of this two game series is set for Tuesday night. Charlie Gillies (7-5, 4.44) will take on Jeff McKenzie (5-9, 4.51). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
Featured Image by Ed Bailey
By Robert Pannier