Lincoln Saltdogs Go International in 4-2 11 Inning Victory
It has been no secret that Wichita Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper is no fan of the new international rule, implemented this season in the American Association. Earlier this season on Short Hops, the Wichita manager expressed how unfair it would be to see a scoreless tie decided by a gimmicky idea intended to keep games from going on for too many innings. Sunday afternoon saw Hooper’s fear become reality.
The Lincoln Saltdogs sent lefty Kevin McGovern to the mound versus the Wichita Wingnuts Tim Brown. Both pitchers dominated throughout the contest, with each allowing five hits. McGovern walked three while Brown allowed no walks, but the Saltdogs starter added seven strikeouts to Brown’s two. It was amazing pitchers’ duel.
Brown allowed a single in each of the first two innings, before retiring the Lincoln Saltdogs in order in the third. In the fourth he found himself in a bit of trouble. Mitch Canham and Jon Gaston produced back-to-back singles to begin the inning. Brown remained poised, however, retiring the next three batters in order to keep Lincoln off the scoreboard. Over the next four innings the Wichita starter retired 12 of the 13 batters he faced, only yielding a two-out single to Gaston in the sixth.
McGovern was equally as impressive. The lefty gave up a single in the first, then allowed a single to Joash Brodin and a walk to T.J. Mittelstaedt to start the second. McGovern showed no concern, striking out John Nester and then getting Dustin Geiger to hit into a double-play to end the inning. In the third an error and a walk with one out had the pressure on the lefty, but he struck out David Espinosa and then got a comebacker from Matt Padgett to retire the Wingnuts.
The Lincoln Saltdogs starter retired 15 of the 19 batters he faced over the next five innings. McGovern continually came up with big strikeouts when he needed and kept the game scoreless through eight.
In the ninth, both teams turned to their bullpens. Matt Nevarez pitched a scoreless ninth for the Wichita Wingnuts, as did Daniel Bennett in the 10th. Daniel Child relieved for the Lincoln Saltdogs and retired all six batters he faced over the next two innings.
In the 11th came the new international rule. Both teams would begin their halves of the inning with a runner on second base. Bennett retired the first batter of the inning, before Hooper turned to Al Yevoli to close it out. The left-hander could not deliver.
Canham singled, sending Ryan Wiggins to third and Jon Gaston followed with a base hit to make it 1-0. Gaston was picked off first on a great throw by Nester, but a walk to Curt Smith was followed by three straight hits to increase the lead to 4-0. Jeremy Hamilton, Matt Forgatch and Brian Joynt all had clutch two-out singles in the inning to stake the Lincoln Saltdogs to the four-run lead.
In the bottom of the 11th the Wichita Wingnuts looked to rally to tie it. Jayce Ray began the inning at second and moved to third on a single by Alberto Gonzalez. Espinosa walked to load the bases against Zach Arneson. That brought Matt Padgett to the plate, and when he took two quick balls it was looking really good for Wichita. Padgett crushed the next pitch deep to center field that Gaston made a play on a few feet from the wall. Ray scored and Gonzalez moved to third. Brodin grounded out to score Gonzalez and move Espinosa to second. Mittelstaedt was the home team’s last chance. He drove an Arneson pitch deep to center, bringing the crowd to their feet, but Gaston made the catch on the warning track to end the game.
Child (1-0) earned the victory, while Yevoli (2-1) took the loss. Canham continues his incredibly hot start, going 3-5 with a run scored. That raised his average to .477, and extended his hitting streak to 13 games. During the streak he is 27-52 (.519). Gaston had 4 hits in 5 trips to the plate. It was a great way to rebound after watching his 13-game hit streak end the night before.
By Robert Pannier
Read feature on Wichita Wingnuts Starter Tim Brown