Faced with a due or die situation, the Wichita Wingnuts turned to the one guy that has kept this club afloat all season long – Tim Brown. Brown won 10 games for the second season in a row, and has been the one starter that the team has been able to rely on all season long. Down 0-2 to the Laredo Lemurs with the season on the line, the Wingnuts asked Brown to give them one more big outing, and that is what he did, pitching seven outstanding innings to lead the club to the 4-3 victory.
The game didn’t get off on the foot that Brown would have liked. In the top of the first Ty Morrison singled to get the game started and moved to second and then to third on successive ground outs. Denis Phipps delivered a clutch two-out hit that scored Morrison to make it 1-0.
Matt Loosen started for Laredo and retired the Wingnuts in order in the first, but in the second Wichita mounted a rally. Andy LaRoche began the inning with a single, and advanced to second when T.J. Mittelstaedt walked. Two batters later Harrison Kain singled into right field. LaRoche scored on the play, and both runners moved into scoring position on an error. With the game tied, Leo Vargas was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Loosen retired Taylor Smart, but Nick Van Stratten hit a ground ball to second that he beat out, scoring Mittelstaedt to give the Wingnuts the lead. Taylor Oldham then drew a walk to bring in Kain and it was 3-1 Wichita.
Following the first inning run, Brown was simply awesome. He gave up just three hits over the next six innings, retiring 18 of the 21 batters he faced. For the day the Wingnuts right-hander went 7 innings. He gave up 5 hits and just 1 earned run while striking out 5.
In the bottom of the seventh the club gave him an insurance run which proved to be pivotal. LaRoche got the rally started again, this time drawing a walk. He then stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. Mittelstaedt then stroked a double into left field to bring home LaRoche and it was 4-1.
In the eighth the Wingnuts turned to Derek Eitel, and he gave up a run to make it a 4-2 game. Phil Pohl reached on a dropped third strike and moved to second on a wild pitch. Morrison drew a walk, but Eitel was able to strike out Abel Nieves and Kevin Taylor. With two outs Phipps came up big again, singling to left field to score Pohl to make it 4-2.
In the ninth Paul Smyth came on looking to end the game. The Wingnuts closer got a fly out for the first out, but Drew Martinez legged out an infield single to get the rally going. Smyth struck out Juan Silverio, but Pohl doubled into left field to score the speedy Martinez. Down by just a run and with the tying run at second, Morrison looked to deliver the big hit, but he lofted a fly ball into right field that was caught by Brent Clevlen to end the game.
Nick Van Stratten continues to warm up, going 2-4 with an RBI. Kain was also 2-4, scoring a run and driving in another. Oldham was 0-2, but he walked twice and drove home a run. LaRoche was 1-3 with 2 runs and 2 walks.
Martinez was 3-4 with a run in a losing effort. Phipps was 2-4 with 2 RBI.
By Robert Pannier