The Wichita Wingnuts are quickly proving this season that they are never really out of games, and that was the case Tuesday night as the team fell behind 4-0 before battling back to down the Cleburne Railroaders, 8-6. Ryne Willard had his best performance of the season, driving in four to spur the comeback. John Nester added 4-hits.
Cleburne would put up four in the bottom of the first inning. With one down, Trevor Sealey hit his first home run of the season. Patrick Palmeiro walked before father Rafael Palmeiro struck out. With two down, Chevy Clarke drilled his second home run since joining the Railroaders to extend the lead to three. Levi Scott singled before Angelo Gumbs walked, bringing Alex Polston to the plate. He grounded a single into left that brought Scott around to score and it was 4-0.
The Wichita Wingnuts would get two of those runs back in the top of the second. Tony Thomas and John Nester started the fame with back-to-back singles, and both runners came home when Ryne Willard lined a double down the line. That made it 4-2.
Cleburne extended their lead back to three in the bottom of the second. KC Huth started the inning with a ball to the wall in left-center that he legged out for a triple. He scored on a single by Sealey and it was 5-2.
Wichita would do a little responding of their own in the top of the third. Abel Nieves started the inning with a single and scored when Fernando Perez hit his third homer of the year to make this a two-run game. Two batters later, John Nester singled and he scored on a double by Willard to tie the score at five.
The Railroaders would retake the lead right away in the bottom of the third. With two down, Blake Grant-Parks connected on his second homer of the season, and it was a 6-5 Cleburne lead.
In the fourth, the Wingnuts would put together another rally to take the lead. Logan Watkins doubled to start the inning and scored on a single by Nieves. Nieves stole second and moved to third on a single by Perez. That brought Thomas to the plate, who grounded out, scoring Nieves to give Wichita their first lead of the game, 7-6.
The first four innings of the contest had been wild, with 13 runs scored, but the next five would be the pitchers turn to take charge. Seth Harvey (2-0) came in for Wichita in the second and tossed 3.1 outstanding innings, allowing one run while striking out three, allowing his team to take the lead.
From there, Wichita held the lead one inning at a time. John Hayes tossed a scoreless sixth, striking out the side. James Campbell tossed a perfect seventh and Brady Bowen kept the Railroaders off the board in the eighth.
The Wingnuts added an insurance run in the sixth. Nieves led off the inning with his third hit of the game. He moved to second on a walk to Perez. Nester singled to load the bases, and Nieves came home on a sacrifice fly by Willard, his fourth run driven in of the day.
Daniel Tillman came on in the ninth and walked the first batter. He would load the bases on singles, but struck out the side to preserve the lead for his sixth save of the season.
Ryne Willard finished 2-4 with 4-RBI for Wichita. John Nester was 4-5 with 2-runs scored and Abel Nieves was 3-5 with 3-runs and an RBI. Alex Polston finished 3-5 with an RBI.
These two teams square off again on Wednesday. Travis Banwart (2-1, 2.03) will go for Wichita against Dylan Mouzakes (1-1, 4.43). First pitch is scheduled for 7:06.
By Robert Pannier