Wingnuts Spoil AirHogs Late Run; Win in Ninth 7-6
The Texas AirHogs showed a lot of heart, battling back from down six in the fifth inning to score six runs of the their own to tie the game. This included an eighth inning run that knotted the game at six. However, a single by Martin Medina brought home Brent Clevlen with the winning run to give the Wichita Wingnuts their sixth-straight victory, moving them just a half game out of first in the South Division of the American Association.
The Wingnuts grabbed the lead in the top of the first against Texas starter Ethan Carnes. Leo Vargas was moved into the leadoff spot and walked to start the game. A double by Christian Stringer scored the Wichita shortstop and it was 1-0.
In the top of the fourth the Wingnuts extended that lead to two. Medina singled to start the frame, but Carnes retired the next two batters. It looked like the inning may end with another goose egg on the scoreboard, but Brennen Salgado doubled to send Medina home and make the score 2-0.
In the top of the fifth, Wichita would score four and it looked like this game was over. Vargas singled to extend his hit streak to nine-games. He would steal second and scored when Clevlen singled. Harrison Kain followed with a single to move Clevlen to second and Medina walked to load them up. Dustin Geiger would advance everyone 90-feet with a single, bringing Clevlen home to make it 4-0. A single by Richard Prigatano would plate two more, giving Wichita a commanding six-run lead.
Wingnuts starter Eddie Medina had been absolutely brilliant through the first four innings. That included a big inning in the fourth, when the first two batters of the inning singled and both moved into scoring position on a sacrifice. At that point it was just 2-0 and a single would have likely tied the score, but right-hander got a pop out and a ground out to end the threat and keep his team on top.
Following the four-run Wingnuts inning in the fifth, the AirHogs came back with two in bottom of the fifth. Will DuPont started the inning with a single and scored when Burt Reynolds hit his American Association leading 10th homerun of the season.
In the sixth, Texas would cut the deficit to just three. A single by Michael Miller got the inning started and he moved to third on a double by Cody Lenahan. Two batters later DuPont hit a sacrifice fly that scored Miller to make it 6-3.
The would be the final inning for Medina, who had pitched quite well. The right-hander pitched 6-innings, allowing 10-hits and 3-earned runs. He had struck out 5 but, most importantly, he had left with his team up by three. Unfortunately, the bullpen could not hold the lead for him.
In the bottom of the seventh, the AirHogs got two of those runs. Juan Sanchez singled to start the frame and moved to second when Reynolds walked. Two batters later Devon Rodriguez walked to load the bases and a single by Miller scored two. That made it a one-run game.
In the eighth, Fabian Roman took over for Wichita but he could not hold the lead. DuPont walked with one out and moved to third on a single by Michael Hur. A Juan Sanchez sacrifice fly scored DuPont and the game was tied.
All the momentum was with the Texas AirHogs, but that changed in the ninth. Clevlen led off the inning with a double and moved to third on ground out. Medina’s single scored Clevlen and the Wichita Wingnuts had retaken the lead.
Frankie Reed took over for Wichita in the ninth and, after giving up a single, he would retire the next three hitters for his third save. Roman (2-0) earned the victory. Carlos Missell (1-1) took the loss.
Clevlen remained hot, going 2-5 with 2-runs scored and an RBI. He moved his hitting streak to five consecutive games, a span where the veteran has gone 12-25 with 8-runs scored and 12-RBI. Medina had 2-hits and Geiger drover in 2.
Miller, Hur and Sanchez each had 2-hits for Texas. Reynolds and Miller both drove in 2.
These two teams will complete their four-game series tomorrow. Charlie Leesman (1-1, 6.31) will take the mound for the Wichita Wingnuts. He will be opposed by Palmer Betts (2-1, 4.24). game time is 2:05.
By Robert Pannier