With the Kansas City T-Bones losing a wild affair to the Winnipeg Goldeyes, the Wichita Wingnuts were looking to gain a full game in the standings. A combined shutout by Travis Banwart and Felix Carvallo provided the pitching and Tony Thomas homered twice to help lead Wichita to an 8-0 victory over the Texas AirHogs. The heart of the order for Wichita drove in seven runs.
After a scoreless first-inning, Wichita would jump out in front in the top of the second. Tony Thomas fouled the first pitch off to him, but the catcher dropped it for an error. That proved to be costly as two pitches later Thomas blasted a shot over the wall in left field for his 22nd homer of the year.
Despite giving up the run, Zhang Haonan pitched extremely well for Texas. The right-hander gave up just two hits over the next four innings and only had a runner reach as far as second base twice.
Meanwhile, Travis Banwart (7-4) was pitching an absolute gem for the Wichita Wingnuts. He retired the first six batters of the game, and never allowed more than one base runner to reach in any inning of the contest. The Wingnuts right-hander allowed four singles and walked one batter in his seven innings of work, striking out seven.
His outing proved to be critical, as the Wingnuts struggled to try to get runs against the Texas right-hander. However, after Zhang gave up a walk to leadoff the seventh, he came out and the Wingnuts would capitalize right away.
Logan Trowbridge reached on the walk and Austin Orvis came on. He retired Leo Vargas on a line out before giving up a base hit to Logan Watkins. Zach Nehrir then hit into a fielder’s choice, getting the lead runner Trowbridge at third to make it first and second and two down. It looked like the AirHogs would escape out of the inning, but Abel Nieves doubled into right field, scoring both runners to extend the lead to three. Angel Reyes followed with a base hit that brought home Nieves and it was 4-0 Wichita.
In the eighth, Tony Thomas led off the inning with his 23rd homer of the year and second of the game to extend the lead to five.
Wichita would add three more runs in the ninth. With Taylor Wright on the hill, Vargas singled and moved to third on a wild pitch. He scored on a Watkins sacrifice fly to put Wichita up by six. Nehrir followed with a single with Nieves then drawing a walk. Reyes then delivered a double into left field, bringing around both runners to give the Wingnuts an 8-0 lead.
Felix Carvallo took over for Banwart in the eighth. He gave up a two out walk, but the runner would reach no further than first. In the ninth, Texas would get two singles and an error, but a double play erased one of those runners and Carvallo took care of the other, striking out Han Jichao to end the ballgame.
Tony Thomas led the offense, going 2-5 with 2-runs and 2-RBI. Angel Reyes also had 2-hits and he drove in 3. Abel Nieves was 1-3 with 2-runs scored and 2-RBI. Han Jichao led the Texas offense with a 2-4 performance.
The Wichita Wingnuts will look to win their sixth straight game on Saturday night, sending left-hander Casey Harman (10-4, 3.78) to the hill. He will face Sean Stutzman (0-3, 8.20). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier