A night after watching starter Danny Gutierrez blank the Gary Southshore RailCats for seven innings, it was the Wichita Wingnuts bullpen that came up huge, tossing four scoreless innings to preserve a 5-2 victory, moving the Wingnuts one game from advancing to the American Association title series. Christian Stringer had a big two-out hit in a four-run third and Alex Boshers earned the victory for Wichita.
This was a scoreless affair through the first two innings, but Wichita would take the lead in the top of the third. Brennen Salgado started the inning with a double into left and took third on an error. Jacob Morris followed by drawing a walk to put runners at the corners with no one out. Leo Vargas reached on a fielder’s choice as Salgado came home to score to make it 1-0. Christian Stringer followed by lining a single into right field that brought both runners home to extend the lead to three. Martin Medina singled to move Stringer to third and he scored when Brent Clevlen grounded into a fielder’s choice to make it 4-0.
Alex Boshers had allowed a lone single through the first two frames, but the RailCats responded with a run in the bottom of the third. Ryan Fitzgerald led off with a base hit and moved to second when Cole Fabio worked the count full before drawing a walk. Alex Crosby grounded a single up the middle that scored Fitzgerald and it was 4-1. Gary had the chance to cut further into that deficit when Joey Havrilak walked to load the bases with no one out, but Boshers was absolutely brilliant, striking out the next two batters before getting a ground out to end the threat and keep his team on top by three.
In the fifth, the Gary Southshore RailCats cut the deficit to two. Boshers retired the first batter of the inning, but Crosby followed by drilling an 0-1 pitch for his first post-season home run to make it 4-2.
Alex Boshers (1-0) came out after 5-innings. He allowed 6-hits, 2-walks, and 2-earned runs, while striking out 7. Manager Pete Rose, Jr. turned to his bullpen, getting a scoreless frame from Tyler Kane, Austin Boyle, and Mike Devine.
The Wichita offense extended the lead for its bullpen in the top of the sixth. Clevlen led off the inning with a base hit, but was thrown out trying to steal second as T.J. Mittelstaedt struck out for the double-play. Matt Chavez kept the inning alive with a double that just barely missed being a home run by about two feet, and scored on a base hit by Richard Prigatano to make it 5-2.
In the ninth, Wichita turned to Ryan Kussmaul looking to close it out. The closer struck out two of the three batters he faced for his second save of the post-season to give the Wingnuts a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
The Wichita Wingnuts bullpen combined to toss 4-innings, allowing 2-hits, a walk, and striking out 5. Christian Stringer drove home two for Wichita and Brennen Salgado had a hit, a run, and a walk. Alex Crosby had a huge night for Gary Southshore, going 3-5 with a run and 2-RBI.
The series now moves to Wichita following a day off on Friday. The Wingnuts will send Eddie Medina to the hill on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
Featured Image by Ed Bailey
By Robert Pannier