The Wichita Wingnuts crushed the red-hot Kansas City T-Bones, dousing the flames on their intra-state rivals, 10-3. The victory was an indictment on the great job that manager Kevin Hooper has done in building this team as five of the club’s newest players played a pivotal part in the victory.
Tim Brown started for the Wingnuts, and the T-Bones opened the game with a first inning run to take the lead. With two outs Jake Blackwood singled and came around to score on a double by Adam Bailey.
Kris Regan started for Kansas City and he cruised through the first inning, but in the second the newcomers led a four-run rally against him. Starlin Rodriguez, added to the team a couple of weeks ago, singled to begin the bottom half of the frame and moved to third on a base hit by Matt Padgett, another newcomer. John Nester, acquired prior to the season beginning, singled to drive home Rodriguez and the game was tied. Two batters later, Harrison Kain, who was brought to Wichita early last week, singled to score Padgett. Jayce Ray brought home Nester, and two batters later T.J. Mittelstaedt, another off-season acquisition, plated Kain with a single. That made it 4-1.
In the bottom of the third Wichita extended their lead with two more runs. Rodriguez led off with a single and came all the way around to score when Padgett doubled to the gap. A wild pitch moved Padgett to third, and Nester followed by drawing a walk. Luis Hernandez plated Padgett with a sacrifice fly to make it 6-1.
That was all the runs that Brown would need. The right-hander retired six of the seven batters he faced in the second and third innings, but in the fourth the T-Bones would get one run back. Adam Bailey walked and moved to second on a passed ball. Alex Marquez drove Bailey home with a single to make it a 6-2 game.
In the sixth the T-Bones added one more. With two outs Vladamir Frias singled and Brian Erie followed with a double that scored Frias from first. Kansas City was within three and they would get no closer.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Wingnuts ended any chance of the T-Bones coming back. With Jared Messer pitching, Rodriguez started the rally with another lead-off single. Padgett singled to move Rodriguez to second and Nester brought Rodriguez home with a single. Two batters later Kain drove Padgett home with a single of his own and, after a walk to Espinosa loaded the bases, Mittelstaedt singled to bring home both Kain and Nester.
Brown (5-1) had his usual solid outing, lasting 6 innings, allowing 7 hits, a walk, and 3 runs, 2 of which were earned. He struck out 2. The bullpen pitched three outstanding innings for the second night in a row as Frankie Reed, Al Yevoli and Scott Kuzminsky each pitched a scoreless inning, striking out two in each of their frames.
While the pitching staff pitched well, it was the group of five that really garnered the attention. Mittelstaedt was 3-4 with 3 RBI. Rodriguez also went 3-4 with 3 runs scored. Padgett was also 3-4, scoring 3 runs and driving in another. Nester was 2-3 with 2 runs and 2 RBI, and Kain was 2-4 with 2 runs and 2 RBI. Combined the five were 13-19 with 10 runs and 8 RBI.
By Robert Pannier