Luis Hernandez Walk-Off Double Gives Wichita Wingnuts 1-0 Win
Pitching and defense are the backbone of the curriculum at Wingnuts University, and that was on full display Wednesday night as the Wichita Wingnuts defeated the Laredo Lemurs 1-0. The victory came on a walk-off double by Luis Hernandez, giving the Wingnuts victories in the first three games of this series.
If pitching is what you want, then there was plenty of outstanding performances on this night. Jason Van Skike went for the Wingnuts, and was opposed by right-hander Matt Loosen. The Laredo starter had been roughed up in his last two starts, both against the Grand Prairie AirHogs, but he had complete command of his pitches on this night.
The right-hander showed he was going to be tough to score on right away, when David Espinosa led off the bottom of the first with a triple, yet was left stranded. Loosen then retired 12 of the next 13 hitters he faced before giving up back-to-back singles in the fifth. Both of those runners would be left on base as well.
Loosen was finally pulled after 7 innings. He had pitched a gem, allowing just 3 hits and 4 walks, while striking out 4. It was his best outing of the season.
The Laredo starter was not the only one having his best start of the year. Jason Van Skike was pitching a gem of his own, against what many consider the best offensive team in the American Association. The right-hander dominated in his 7.1 innings of work, never allowing more than one batter to reach base in any inning.
Van Skike came up with big pitches all night long, throwing 64 of his 95 pitches for strikes. In the top of the eighth inning, the righty gave up a one-out single and manager Kevin Hooper went to his bullpen from there. The Wichita Wingnuts starter allowed just 5 hits and a walk, while striking out 4.
Frankie Reed came in to close out the eighth, and that is exactly what he did. The left-hander struck out both batters he faced to preserve the scoreless tie.
In the bottom of the eighth the Laredo Lemurs turned to Luis De La Cruz and he allowed just a single walk before retiring the side.
Newly acquired Dakota Watts came on in the ninth for Wichita and gave up a lead-off single to Dennis Phipps. Kevin Taylor bunted him to second, but Watts struck out former Wingnut Dustin Geiger, before getting Jeudy Valdez to fly out to end the inning.
That set up the dramatic bottom half of the inning. Joash Brodin singled, but a double-play cleared the bases and made it two outs. Brent Dean kept it alive by drawing a five pitch walk. That brought a call from the bullpen that brought John Brebbia to the mound. He walked Taylor Oldham, then watched Luis Hernandez drill a 1-0 pitch for a double that scored Dean to give the Wichita Wingnuts the 1-0 win.
Watts (2-0) earned his first victory in a Wingnuts uniform. De La Cruz (1-2) took the loss.
Phipps was the only player for either team with more than one hit in the game. He went 2-4. Hernandez was 1-4, with his clutch double being the only run driven in.
By Robert Pannier