The Wichita Wingnuts had entered Saturday night’s game as losers of four of their last five. It was understandable that they would want to get off on the right foot, and that is what they did, scoring seven runs in the first on their way to a 9-4 victory over the Texas AirHogs. Leo Vargas had a 2-run single in the frame and Jordan Cooper won his seventh game of the year. The win moved the team two behind the Lincoln Saltdogs for the American Association’s top record.
After Jordan Cooper retired the side in the top of the first, the Wingnuts took a commanding lead in the bottom half of the inning. Jacob Morris was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a wild pitch. Christian Stringer hit a ground ball that he beat out for a single to put runners at the corners with no one out. Austin Kubitza then threw his second wild pitch of the frame, scoring Morris to make it 1-0. Brent Clevlen and T.J. Mittelstaedt walked to load the bases, bringing Matt Chavez to the plate. He drilled a ball to center that was caught by the center fielder, allowing Stringer to score on the sacrifice fly to make it 2-0. Martin Medina singled to right field to score Clevlen. The Wingnuts were ahead 3-0 before Kubitza was able to record his first out. A base hit by Brennen Salgado scored Mittelstaedt. With runners at second and third, Leo Vargas singled into left bringing both runners home. Vargas then came home on a base hit by Morris to make it 7-0.
Cooper was in complete command, but he found himself in trouble in the third. The Wingnuts starter was greeted by three straight singles to start the inning. With the bases loaded, Levi Scott came to the plate. He got ahead in the count 2-0, then drilled his seventh homer of the season over the wall in left-center to cut the deficit to three.
Wichita got one of those runs back in the bottom half of the inning. Vargas singled to start the inning, then stole second. He moved to third on a ground out and scored on a wild pitch to make it a four-run lead.
The Wichita Wingnuts added one more run in the eighth. Clevlen doubled to start the inning. Mittelstaedt followed with a base hit that brought Clevlen home to make it 9-4.
Jordan Cooper (7-2) went 5-innings, allowing 5-hits and 4-runs while striking out 4. Alex Boshers, Tyler Kane, James Campbell, and Austin Boyle each pitched a scoreless frame.
Leo Vargas finished the game 2-4 with 2-runs and 2-RBI. T.J. Mittelstaedt was 2-3 with a run and an RBI. Brent Clevlen scored 2-runs, and Christian Stringer and Martin Medina each had 2-hits. The Texas AirHogs offense was led by Levi Scott who was 3-5 with a run and 4-RBI.
The rubber match of this three-game series is set for tomorrow afternoon. Eddie Medina (8-3, 3.10) goes for his ninth win of the season. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05.
By Robert Pannier