The two guys who have become a nemesis for the Wichita Wingnuts looked to be wreaking havoc once again, when Reggie Abercombie drove home a run and scored another in the first to give the Winnipeg Goldeyes a 2-0 lead, while Kevin McGovern dominated the visitors through the first four innings of Game 3 of the American Association Championship series. However, the Wingnuts chipped away at a 3-0 deficit, eventually taking the lead on a three-run eighth inning on their way to a 5-3 victory. That gave Wichita a 2-1 lead in the series.
Jordan Cooper started for Wichita, and pitched quite well, but would find himself trailing coming out of the first. With one down, David Rohm lined a single into left and Josh Romanski followed by drawing a walk on just four pitches. Next up was Wingnuts killer Reggie Abercrombie, who ripped a double off the wall in left, bringing Rohm home and sending Romanski to third. A ground out by Shawn Pleffner brought home Romanski and the Winnipeg Goldeyes had the early 2-0 lead.
In the fourth, the Goldeyes added to their lead. Cooper retired the first two batters of the inning, but Wes Darvill kept it alive with a double into center. Mason Katz then grounded a single into right field. Richard Prigatano threw home, but Brent Clevlen cut it off, allowing Darvill to score. However, the move allowed the Wingnuts to trap Katz in a rundown and he was eventually tagged out to end the inning.
Kevin McGovern had been absolutely brilliant, pitching much like he did in last year’s game clinching Game 5 of the American Association Championship series. The left-hander retired the first six batters of the game, seeing that streak come to an end when the red hot Brennen Salgado led off the third with a base hit. Through four he allowed just two-hits, but the Wingnuts would finally get on the board in the fifth. McGovern retired the first batter of the inning, but Richard Prigatano hit his second home run of the post-season to make it 3-1.
In the sixth, Wichita made this a one-run game. McGovern struck out Leo Vargas to begin the inning, and Christian Stringer followed with a single up the middle. Two batters later, Brent Clevlen singled into left field, putting runners at first and second with two down. T.J. Mittelstaedt then drilled a 2-2 pitch to the wall in left that missed being a home run by about two feet. Stringer easily scored and Clevlen rounded third looking to tie the game. However, the relay from Romanski to Darvill, to Katz nailed Clevlen to keep Winnipeg on top 3-2.
Victor Capellan came on in the seventh and retired Wichita in order, but things unraveled for him quickly in the eighth. The right-hander retired the first two batters, but the third out proved to be elusive. Stringer singled into right field and, with Martin Medina at the plate, stole second on a play that looked like he may have been out. The break proved to be pivotal. Medina worked the count full before drawing a walk and Clevlen followed by fighting off a 1-1 pitch, blooping it down the right field line to score Stringer and the game was tied. Next up was Mittelstaedt, who grounded a base hit into right to score Medina to give the Wingnuts their first lead of the game. Matt Chavez followed with a base hit that brought home Clevlen and the Wichita Wingnuts had a 5-3 lead.
Jordan Cooper came out after pitching six solid innings. Josh Goosen-Brown (1-0) came on in the seventh and tossed a perfect inning. Mike Devine relieved in the eighth and tossed a perfect frame as well. That brought Ryan Kussmaul on in the ninth looking to close it out. He retired Winnipeg in order for his third save of the post-season and the Wingnuts were the 5-3 victors.
The Wichita Wingnuts offense was led by T.J. Mittelstaedt, who was 2-4 with 2-RBI. Christian Stringer had 2-hits and scored 2-runs, and Brent Clevlen was 2-4 with a run and an RBI.
Game 4 of the series will be Monday evening. Charle Rosario will go for the Winnipeg Goldeyes. He will be opposed by Eddie Medina. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier