Seven-games into the 2017 American Association season, the Wichita Wingnuts had scored 32-runs, an average of about 4.5-runs per game. The potent all-star lineup had just 2-home runs, however, over the last nine games, the offense that many expected to see when the season began has caught fire, scoring 81-runs and blasting 8-homers in the last nine-games.
Saturday night, that offense was at it again, downing the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks 11-6, as Martin Medina was perfect at the plate, rapping out 3-hits and drawing 2-walks while also hitting his first home run of the year. T.J. Mittelstaedt has been a huge catalyst in this run, extending his hitting streak to five and driving in 3-runs.
This game was touted as a great pitchers’ duel between two aces. Alex Boshers started for Wichita, opposed by Tyler Alexander of the RedHawks. For the first three innings, this contest lived up to the billing. Alexander retired the first six hitters he faced, and had a no-hitter through the first three. Boshers was nearly as impressive, allowing two-walks and a hit through the first three frames.
However, in the fourth, the Wingnuts took command of this game. Christian Stringer and Brent Clevlen started the inning with back-to-back walks. That brought Mittelstaedt to the plate, who blasted his second home run of the season to stake Wichita to the 3-0 lead. Next up was Matt Chavez, who homered as well, the first time the team has had back-to-back home runs this season. Brennen Salgado followed with a single to center, and moved to third when the center fielder made an error, bringing Medina to the plate. He fouled off two pitches to stay alive, then deposited his first home run of the season over the left field wall to make it 6-0.
The Wingnuts were in complete control of this game, as Boshers continued to roll, keeping the potent RedHawks offense off the scoreboard through the first five frames. However, Fargo-Moorhead put four up in the sixth and got right back into this game.
K.D. Lang walked to start the inning, and two batters later Mitch Delfino hit his second homer of the season. Charlie Valerio and Kes Carter drew back-to-back walks, and that was it for the Wichita starter. Alex Boshers (3-1) went 5.1-innings, allowing 4-hits, 5-walks, and 4-earned runs. He struck out 6, a season high.
Jesse Pratt came on in relief but could not stop the rally right away. Yhoxian Medina singled to load the bases. Two batters later, Brett Wiley singled, scoring Valerio and Carter to bring Fargo-Moorhead within two.
In the eighth, the Wingnuts extended their lead to five. Chavez walked to begin the inning and, two batters later, Medina singled. Richard Prigatano reached on an error, and Chavez came home on a passed ball. Medina came home on a passed ball as well, and Prigatano scored on a double by Stringer. That made it 9-4.
The RedHawks responded with a run in the bottom half of the inning. Carter doubled with one out and moved to third on a single by Medina. A sacrifice fly by Derick Fox scored Carter and it was 9-5.
The Wichita Wingnuts responded with two-runs in the top of the ninth. Mittelstaedt singled to start the inning and moved to second on a wild pitch. Chavez reached on an error before Medina walked. With the bases loaded, Prigatano singled to score Mittelstaedt and Chavez scored on a ground out. That made it 11-5.
The RedHawks were able to get one of those runs back. Kang tripled to start the frame and scored on a ground out by Ryan Pineda. That was as close as Fargo-Moorhead would get.
Martin Medina finished 3-3 with a 2-runs, 2-RBI and 2-walks. He also homered. T.J. Mittelstaedt was 2-5 with 2-runs and 3-RBI. Mitch Delfino was 2-5 with a run and 2-RBI for the RedHawks.
The Wingnuts go for the seventh straight win tomorrow. Ryan Kussmaul (1-2, 3.50) goes for the Wingnuts. He will be opposed by Jose Almarante (2-1, 4.15). First pitch is 1:00.
By Robert Pannier