After 20 days out on the road and a postponement following a torrential downpour, the Wichita Wingnuts finally returned home to Lawrence-Dumont Stadium as they faced the Lincoln Saltdogs in a double-header on Wednesday night. Thanks to two home runs from Curt Smith and Brandon Jacobs, Lincoln swept the double-header, keeping the Wingnuts a half game behind the Kansas City T-Bones for second place in the South Division.
The Wingnuts would grab the early lead in Game 1 with a run in the first. Logan Watkins singled against Eric Wooten and Logan Trowbridge followed with a walk to put two on with no one out. Wooten was hurt and came out and Cortland Cox came on, walking Abel Nieves. Two batters later, Tony Thomas singled to plate Trowbridge to make it 1-0.
Casey Harman started for Wichita and rolled through the first, but in the second the Lincoln Saltdogs would take the lead. Curt Smith started the inning with a double and scored when Randolph Oduber followed with a base hit. T.J. Bennett then drilled a base hit to right that moved Oduber to third and he scored on a sacrifice fly by Cesar Valera. Up by a run, Daniel Herrera singled to move Bennett to second. With two down, Ivan Marin singled to left, driving home Bennett to make it 3-1.
An inning later, Lincoln would extend their lead. With one down, Smith drilled his 15th homer of the year off the batter’s eye in dead center to put the Saltdogs up by three.
Wichita will get one of those runs back in the bottom of the inning. Trowbridge beat out a dribbler for a base hit. My double play him, but Angel Reyes kept the inning alive with a base hit. That brought Thomas back to the plate, who doubled into left-center to score Reyes and pull the Wingnuts back within two.
In the fifth, Harman retired the first two batters of the inning, but Brandon Jacobs would turn on the first pitch he saw, drilling it deep to center for his 17th homer of the year. That made it 5-2, which would be the final.
Shairon Martis (2-4) tossed four innings of shutout ball, allowing just one hit to earn the victory. Curt Smith finished 2-3 with 2-runs and an RBI. Tony Thomas was 2-3 with 2-RBI for Wichita.
The second game was dominated by Brad Thoutt, who had his best start of the season for the Saltdogs, allowing a lone run in five innings. Curt Smith and Brandon Jacobs also homered in the night cap.
The Lincoln Saltdogs got rolling in the top of the first. Jordan Cooper started for the Wingnuts and saw the second pitch he threw to Christian Ibarra sail over the wall for his 15th home run of the year. With two down, Curt Smith took a 1-0 pitch deep for No. 16 on the season. That gave Lincoln a 2-0 lead.
In the third, the Saltdogs would extend their lead to four. Ivan Marin singled to get the inning going, and two batters later Brandon Jacobs connected on his 18th homer of the year.
Wichita would get one of those runs back in the bottom half of the inning. Logan Watkins started the frame with a triple and scored on a ground out by Abel Nieves to cut the deficit to 4-1.
It would stay that way until the top of the seventh when the Lincoln Saltdogs would put this game away. Jacobs walked with one down and moved to third when Smith delivered a two-out single. That brought T.J. Bennett to the plate, who doubled to bring home both runners. He scored on a Cesar Valera double putting Lincoln on top 7-1.
Brad Thoutt (1-1) had struggled early on with Lincoln, but he looked brilliant in this contest, allowing just 3-hits in 5-innings, striking out 5. Curt Smith followed up his Game 1 performance with another outstanding game at the plate, going 4-4 with 2-runs and an RBI. Brandon Jacobs finished 1-3 with 2-runs and 2-RBI.
The Wichita Wingnuts look to regroup for the final game of the series against the Saltdogs on Thursday night. Right-hander Charlie Gillies (6-5, 3.93) starts for Wichita, while Lincoln counters with lefty Joe Bircher (5-6, 5.16). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
Featured Image by Ed Bailey
By Robert Pannier