It was the last game of the arduous three week road trip for the Wichita Wingnuts, as the team was looking for their sixth win in seven games. Thanks to five solid innings from Travis Banwart and a four run seventh inning, the Wingnuts pulled off the 7-4 victory over the Cleburne Railroaders, taking three of four in the series.
This was a great matchup between Wichita starter Travis Banwart and Cleburne left-hander Michael Gunn. Gunn did not allow a hit until the third and only allowed two through the first four. The Railroaders threatened in each of the first two innings, allowing two hits in each frame, but Cleburne could not get a run across.
In the fifth, both teams would finally get on the board. In the top half of the frame John Nester singled to start out the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice. He moved to third on a Logan Trowbridge single and scored when Logan Watkins hit the first pitch he saw for a base hit. That put the Wichita Wingnuts on top 1-0. The Wingnuts would have the opportunity to extend their lead when they would load the bases with two down, but Gunn was able to get Angel Reyes to ground out to end the threat.
Cleburne came right back in the bottom half of the inning to tie the score. Banwart struck out the first two batters of the inning, but Angel Rosa would work the count full before drawing a walk. He scored when Trevor Sealey followed with a double to the wall in center to tie the game at one.
The game would stay tied until the top of the seventh, when Wichita would retake the lead. Nick Rotola started off the inning with a single and moved to second on a passed ball. Trowbridge then laid down a perfect sacrifice that he beat out for a base hit. The throw by Gunn trying to nail Trowbridge was wild, allowing him to move to second and Rotola to score. A single by Watkins moved Trowbridge the third and that would be it for the Cleburne starter.
Patrick Young came on and Zach Nehrir greeted him with a base hit to bring home Trowbridge and extend the lead to two. Two batters later, Ray is lined a single into left field. Watkins scored to extend the lead to three and Nehrir came around looking to add to the lead. However, a great throw by Hunter Clanin nailed Nehrir at the plate for the second out of the inning. A wild pitch would bring in Reyes and suddenly a nail biter was looking very much like a blow out.
Cleburne battled back with three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Michael Gulino started the inning when he reached on an error. Banwart retire the next two batters but Sealey kept the inning alive with a base hit. That brought Levi Scott to the plate, who drilled his 15th home run of the season to cut the Railroaders deficit to one.
The Wichita Wingnuts would get themselves a little bit of room in the top of the ninth. Watkins walked to start the inning then stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. Nehrir was then hit by pitch and then stole second to put two runners in scoring position with no one out. A wild pitch brought home Watkins and Ray is brought home Nehrir with a base hit to extend the lead to 7-4.
Austin Boyle had come on in the eighth and remained in the game for the Wingnuts. He retired the side for his third save of the season.
Logan Watkins led the Wichita offense, going 3-4 with 2-runs and Angel Reyes was 2-5 with a run scored and 2-RBI. Levi Scott led the Cleburne offense, going 2-4 with a run and 3-RBI.
The victory ended the Wichita 19-game road trip as the team went 13-6, moving a half game behind the Kansas City T-Bones for second in the South Division. The Wingnuts finally head home beginning a three game set against the Lincoln Saltdogs starting Tuesday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier