When you bring the two best teams in the American Association together in August, you can guarantee that the contest is going to have a playoff atmosphere and that is what occurred Monday night as the Wichita Wingnuts welcomed the Lincoln Saltdogs to town for the first of three-games. The two teams battled through a nail-biter that saw each team take the lead at some point in the contest, but it would be the Winguts who would draw first blood with the 3-2 victory. It was the Tyler’s who led the way as Tyler Kane won his eighth game and Tyler Sullivan scored 2-runs.
Bennett Parry returned from the disabled list for Lincoln to make the start. Wichita would get a run in the bottom of the first against the lefty. Tyler Sullivan and Christian Stringer led off with back-to-back singles that looped just over the head of the second baseman and into center field. That brought Brent Clevlen to the plate, who lined a single into center that scored Sullivan to make it 1-0.
Tyler Kane kept Lincoln off the board through the first two frames, but the Saltdogs would take the lead in the third. Randolph Oduber led off with a ground single to right. Joe Robbins then laid down a sacrifice bunt to the right of the pitcher that he beat out for a base hit. Ivan Marin then bunted both runners into scoring position. Next up was Matty Johnson. He grounded down to Matt Chavez at first who threw home. Martin Medina tagged Oduber out as Robbins moved to third and Johnson to second. With two down, Kane got ahead of Cesar Valera 0-2, but Valera came up with a huge hit to right center that was just out of the reach of Richard Prigatano. That ball rolled to the wall for a triple with both runners coming home to score. Lincoln led 2-1.
In the fifth, Wichita tied the score. Parry retired the first two batters of the frame, but Sullivan went the other way with a single to left to put him at first. Stringer then drew a four-pitch walk and Clevlen followed with a lined single into right-center that brought Sullivan home to make the score 2-2.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Wichita Wingnuts retook the lead. Medina grounded a base hit into left field and moved to second on a single by Prigatano. Brennen Salgado then drew a walk to load the bases with one down. Leo Vargas was the next batter, who hit a ball down the right field line. Valera chased it down and made a nice running catch about 30 feet from first but, with his back to the play, Medina tagged and came home safely to make it 3-2.
Tyler Kane (8-1) left after 7-innings. He allowed 5-hits and 2-runs. He did not strike out or walk a batter. James Campbell came on in the eighth and retired the side in order.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Wingnuts had the chance to extend their lead. With Casey Crosby on the hill, Wichita loaded the bases with one out, however, Crosby got Vargas to fly out before Sullivan grounded out to end the threat.
In the top of the ninth, the Wingnuts turned to Austin Boyle to try to close it out. The right-hander retired the first two batters before walking Nathaniel Maggio to keep the frame alive. However, he struck out Brandon Jacobs looking to end the contest for his first save of the season.
The Wingnuts victory put them a half-game behind Lincoln for the top record in the American Association. Tyler Sullivan led the Wichita offense, going 3-5 with 2-runs scored. Brent Clevlen had 2-hits and 2-RBI. Matt Chavez and Martin Medina each had 2-hits. Cesar Valera had 2-RBI for Lincoln and Randolph Oduber had 2-hits.
The three-game series continues tomorrow. Dimitri Kourtis (0-0, 2.01) goes for the Lincoln Saltdogs. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
Featured Image by Ed Bailey
By Robert Pannier