Zack Cox Sends Wichita Wingnuts to Walk-Off Victory
Zack Cox had entered the ninth inning Wednesday night 0-4 and he had hit into a double-play to boot. It had not been a great night for the Wichita Wingnuts third baseman, but with one swing he completed his team’s comeback in becoming the hero in the Wingnuts 7-6 victory over the Kansas City T-Bones.
The Kansas City T-Bones got off to a great start in this contest when they plated three-runs through the first two-innings of the game. Anthony Capra started for Wichita, but he continued to struggle with the command of his pitches. In the first he walked Dalton Wheat with one-out and then gave up a double to Brett Wiley that scored Wheat to make it 1-0.
In the second, Vladimir Frias and Tyler Moore started the frame with back-to-back singles. Sergio Leon laid down a perfect bunt to move both runners into scoring position. Tyler Massey followed with a double to the wall in right-center that scored both runners to make it 3-0.
In the fourth, the T-Bones would add two more and chase Capra from the game. They would do so without recording a hit. The Saints starter walked Massey and Wheat to start the inning, but then retired the next two batters. It looked like he may get out of it, but back-to-back walks by Anthony Gallas and Starlin Rodriguez plated a run and ended the night for Capra. Mike Devine entered the contest, but he walked Frias to drive in another run to make it 5-0.
The Wingnuts were doing nothing against Jared Messer, only recording one-hit through the first three frames, but they would finally get to the right-hander in the bottom half of the inning. Christian Stringer singled to get it started and two batters later Brent Clevlen singled to right to put runners at the corners with one out. T.J. Mittelstaedt was the next hitter. He drilled a ball high to center that Massey looked like he had a play on, but he was off and the ball dropped in about fifty feet to his right. That allowed Mittelstaedt to come all the way around to score with his second inside the park homerun in two days. More importantly it made the score 5-3.
In the bottom half of the fifth, the Wingnuts made it a one-run game. Brennen Salgado started the inning by drawing a walk and moved to third on a base hit by Leo Vargas. A sacrifice fly by Stringer plated Salgado to make it 5-4.
In the sixth, Kansas City extended the lead back to two. Gallas started the inning by reaching on an error and moved to third on a single by Rodriguez. A sacrifice fly by Frias scored Gallas and it was 6-4.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Wichita Wingnuts made this a one-run game once again. Vargas singled to start the inning, but he was replaced on the base paths on a fielder’s choice by Stringer. Stringer then stole second and scored on a single by Clevlen to make it 6-5.
The Wingnuts would put a runner at third in the seventh and the eighth, but could not tie the score. In the ninth, Stringer started the frame with a single against Kansas City closer Mark Haynes. Next up was Zack Cox, who fell behind 1-2, but then took a Haynes pitch deep over the right-center field fence to give the Wingnuts the 7-6 walk-off victory.
Frankie Reed (5-3) earned the victory with a scoreless inning of relief. Clevlen finished 3-4 with a run and an RBI. Moore was 3-5 with a run for Kansas City in the loss.
The final game of this four-game set will be Thursday night. Alex Boshers (10-3, 3.34) will go for the Wichita Wingnuts against Sean Furney (3-2, 2.81). First pitch is 7:05.
By Robert Pannier