The Wichita Wingnuts headed south Thursday evening to take on the Texas AirHogs on starter Tyler Kane’s 26th birthday. It may have been the Wingnuts’ starters special day, but he was the one delivering the present, allowing one run in seven innings to lead Wichita to a 4-1 victory. That kept the Wingnuts two games behind the Kansas City T-Bones for the final spot in the South Division playoff race.
Each team got on the board in the first-inning. Logan Watkins led off with a walk against Texas starter Cody White. A passed ball moved him to second and he scored when Tony Thomas singled into left field with two down. Two walks helped to load the bases, but White was able to strike out Logan Trowbridge to end the threat.
The AirHogs responded with a run in the bottom half the inning. Tyler Kane retired the first two batters of the inning, but Greg Golson tripled down the line in right and scored on a wild pitch to tie the score at one.
In the third, Wichita would retake the lead. Angel Reyes started the inning with a double and moved to second on a wild pitch. Two batters later, he scored on a Chase Simpson single up the middle to put the Wingnuts back on top by a run.
An inning later they would extend their lead. Leo Vargas doubled to start the inning bringing Watkins to the plate. He laid down a perfect bunt, but the throw to first by White was wild, allowing Vargas to come around to score.
The Wichita Wingnuts would extend their lead to three in the top of the seventh. Trowbridge tripled into right field to get the inning going and scored on a sacrifice fly by Nick Rotola to make it 4-1.
That would be plenty enough support for Tyler Kane (6-3) on the evening. The right-hander allowed 5-hits in 7-innings of work to earn the victory. He walked 2 and struck out 3.
Scott Kuzminsky came on in the eighth and tossed a perfect frame. In the ninth, Wichita turned to closer Daniel Tillman who allowed a single, but struck out two for his American Association leading 26th save of the season.
Leo Vargas led the Wichita offense, going 3-5 with a run scored. Chase Simpson was 2-4 with an RBI. Greg Golson led Texas, going 2-4 with a run scored.
Game 2 of this four-game series will continue on Friday. Wichita sends Travis Banwart (6-4, 2.47) to the hill. He will be opposed by Zhang Haonan (0-2, 8.71). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier