The ship appears to be righted in Wichita now, as the Wingnuts won their fifth straight game on Wednesday night, downing the Sioux Falls Canaries, 6-3. That was the team’s ninth win in their last 10 games, and came thanks, in part, to Logan Watkins, who scored twice and drove in two others to set the table for his team’s victory. Jordan Cooper snapped a
three game losing streak, going 6-innings to earn the win.
The Canaries would get on the board first, scoring a run in the top of the first. Jordan Smith and Blake Schmit led off the game with back-to-back singles. Chris Grayson followed with a single up the middle, easily scoring Smith to make it 1-0. Sioux Falls had runners at the corners with no one out, looking to turn this into a huge inning, but Wingnuts starter Jordan Cooper struck out David Bergin for the first out of the frame. Burt Reynolds grounded a Cooper offering to Abel Nieves at third, who fired home to gun Schmit for the second out and Mike Hart then struck out on three pitches, as the Canaries would come away with just one run.
In the bottom of the second, the Wichita Wingnuts would tie the score against Sioux Falls starter Joe Bircher. Tony Thomas got things started with a single up the middle and moved to second on a ground out. Bircher struck out Logan Trowbridge for the second out of the frame, but Ryne Willard walked before Leo Vargas delivered a clutch single up the middle to score Thomas to tie the game at one.
This was a great battle between the two starters until the fifth when both teams would score multiple runs. In the top half of the inning Aaron Gretz doubled into left field with one out and moved to third when Patrick Fiala singled into left field. Smith then grounded into a fielder’s choice that scored Gretz to put the Canaries back on top. Schmit then reached on an error bringing Grayson to the plate. He singled into right field, easily scoring Smith. Schmit attempted to come home, but the relay was perfect to the plate, forcing him back toward third where he was tagged out to end the frame.
Trailing by two, the Wingnuts would take the lead for the first time in the contest in the bottom of the fifth. Willard reached on an error to start the inning and moved to third when Vargas laced a ball down the line in left for a double. With runners at second and third and no one out, Logan Watkins hit a ball to the wall in right that easily scored both runners. Watkins raced into third with a triple and he scored when Zach Nehrir drove him home with a sacrifice fly putting Wichita on top, 4-3.
The one run lead held until the seventh, when Wichita would extend their lead to three. Ryan Fritze came on to relieve and struck out Vargas to start the inning, but Watkins singled up the middle to get things going and Nehrir followed with a drive to the wall. Watkins came all the way around from first to score as Nehrir raced into second with a double. Two batters later, Fernando Perez delivered a two-out single to left to score Nehrir, giving the Wingnuts the 6-3 lead.
Cooper (3-3) settled down to allow 3-runs on 8-hits in 6-innings of work. He walked one and struck out 6 in earning his first victory since May 30.
John Hayes came on in the seventh and tossed a perfect frame. Brady Bowen allowed a lead0ff double in the eighth before striking out the side, and Mark Haynes came on in the ninth, earning his first save of the season with a scoreless frame.
Logan Watkins finished 2-5 with 2-runs and 2-RBI for the Wichita Wingnuts. Zach Nehrir was 2-3 with a run and 2-RBI. Chris Grayson was 3-4 with 2-RBI for Sioux Falls.
The Wichita Wingnuts will look for the sweep on Thursday when they send Casey Harman (3-1, 2.43) to the hill. He will square off against Dylan Thompson (3-2, 4.54). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
Featured Image by Ed Bailey
By Robert Pannier