The Wichita Wingnuts entered Game 1 of the American Association Championship series looking to do something that no one else in the league has been able to do against Winnipeg Goldeyes starter Charle Rosario – put up runs. The right-hander allowed just 8-runs in his 47.1 innings since joining the team, but the Wingnuts knocked him out after two innnigs, then held on for the victory thanks to a huge three-run homer by T.J. Mittelstaedt that gave Wichita the 12-7 victory. That gives them the 1-0 lead in the series.
Wichita starter Danny Gutierrez gave up back-to-back singles to start the game. However, he induced a double-play, then got a ground out to end the threat.
In the bottom half of the inning, the offense staked Gutierrez to a lead. Christian Stringer led off the frame with a double into left field. Charle Rosario retired the next batter, but a base hit up the middle by Brent Clevlen scored Stringer to make it 1-0.
In the bottom of the second, Wichita blew this game open. After Rosario retired the first batter of the inning, Jacob Morris drew a walk and moved to second on a base hit by Leo Vargas. Stringer followed by looping a ball into left-center that dropped in. Stringer raced hard out of the box and legged the hit into a double. Morris easily scored and Vargas came around to score when center fielder Reggie Abercrombie mishandled the ball. That made it 3-0. Two batters later, Clevlen lined a ball down the line in left field that scored Stringer to extend the lead to four. With Clevlen at second, Mittelstaedt drilled a ball into right-center that he legged out for a triple. Clevlen scored and Mittelstaedt came home on an error by third baseman Wed Darvill to make it 6-0.
The Goldeyes responded with three runs in the top of the third, thanks to an error. Mason Katz was hit by a pitch to begin the inning. Gutierrez struck out the next two batters, but David Rohm kept the inning alive with a base hit. With runners at first and second, Josh Romanski grounded to short. Vargas could not outrace Rohm to second, then threw to first, but the ball was dropped for an error, with Katz scoring. That brought Abercrombie to the plate, who drilled a ball to deep center that missed being a home run by about four inches. Abercrombie’s double scored both runners to make it 6-3.
In the fourth, the Winnipeg Goldeyes cut further into the lead. David Bergin started the inning with a base hit. Next up was Darvill, who drilled a ball off the first base bag and it rolled into foul territory. Bergin came all the way around to score, while Darvill raced for third for the triple. He scored on a Katz sacrifice fly and suddenly it was a one-run game.
It stayed that way until the fifth, when the Wingnuts extended their lead to four. Mittelstaedt started the inning with a walk. Matt Chavez followed by drilling a ball into right-center that was just out of the reach of Abercrombie. Mittelstaedt scored and Chavez reached third on the triple. Abercrombie was hurt on the play and remained down for about five minutes, but remained in the game. Michael Lambson relieved, and was greeted by a two-run homer by Richard Prigatano to make it 9-5. That was the first post-season homer hit by the Wingnuts.
Winnipeg responded with two runs in the top of the sixth, thanks to the long ball. Bergin led off the inning with a solo homer over the left field wall to make it a three-run game. Two batters later, Katz blasted a towering shot over the wall in left-center to make it 9-7.
Clinging to a two-run lead, the Wichita bullpen came up huge. Austin Boyle relieved in the seventh and allowed a lone single, a comebacker that hit off the back of his leg. Mike Devine relieved in the eighth and struck out the first two batters before giving up a double to Katz. Andrew Sohn singled to put runners at the corners, but Devine got Casey Turgeon to ground out to end the inning.
In the eighth, T.J. Mittelstaedt put this game away with one swing of the bat. Vargas led off the inning with a base hit into left-center. Stringer followed with a ground ball to short. Sohn was shaded toward the bag, and could only knock down the ball but had no play. Following a strike out, Victor Capellan came on for Winnipeg. He got Clevlen to fly out, but Mittelstaedt greeted him with a three-run homer over the wall in right-center to extend the lead to 12-7. Ryan Kussmaul pitched a perfect ninth to finish off the game.
T.J. Mittelstaedt led the Wichita offense going 2-4 with 3-runs and 4-RBI. Christian Stringer was 3-5 with 3-runs and an RBI and Brent Clevlen was 3-5 with a run and an RBI. Mason Katz led the Goldeyes, going 2-2 with 2-runs, and 2-RBI.
Game 2 of the series is Thursday night in Wichita. Alex Boshers (1-0, 3.60) will go for Wichita. Edwin Carl (0-0, 3.00) will make his first start of the post-season. Game time is 7:05.
Featured Image by Ed Bailey
By Robert Pannier