Brent Clevlen Leads Offensive Onslaught; Wichita Wingnuts Headed to Title Series
After scoring 22-runs in the previous two games of their first round American Association series, the Wichita Wingnuts kept the offensive showcase going, scoring 10-runs on 13-hits to win Game 4 and advance to the championship series. Brent Clevlen led the way, with two-hits and his second homerun of the series, and Harrison Kain had three-hits and two-runs scored in the 10-5 victory.
Reinier Roibal was opposed by Tyler Kane and both starters kept the game scoreless through the first inning. However, in the second, the Sioux City Explorers got on the scoreboard. Tim Colwell started the inning with a single and moved to second after Ralph Henriquez walked. Two batters later, Ino Patron singled to center, scoring Colwell to make it 1-0.
The Wingnuts responded right away in the bottom half of the inning. T.J. Mittelstaedt walked to start the frame, then stole second before Matt Chavez drew a walk. A sacrifice by Nick Van Stratten moved both runners into scoring position for Harrison Kain. He laid down a perfect bunt that he beat out for a single, with Mittelstaedt scoring to make it 1-1. Martin Medina then followed with a base hit to score Chavez and, two batters later, Christian Stringer doubled to the wall in left-center bringing home both runners to make it 4-1.
In the top of the fourth, the Explorers cut that deficit down to one. Kane retired the first two hitters of the inning, but Patron kept it alive with a walk. Bryan Johns followed with a single, and Derrick Robinson drilled a double down the line that scored both runners to make it 4-3.
The Wingnuts did what they have done all season – respond – getting those two runs right back in the bottom half of the inning. PJ Francescon came on in relief and was greeted by a single by Stringer. Two batters later Clevlen drilled his second homerun of the series over the left-center field wall to make it 6-3.
In the fifth, Wichita added another run. Kain doubled to start the inning and scored when Medina singled up the middle. That made it 7-3 and you could see that the team was sensing that they were about to advance.
In the top of the sixth, the Explorers quieted the crowd and quelled some of that enthusiasm. Tommy Mendonca led off the inning with a shot over the left field wall for his first home run of the series, and Nate Samson singled home Robinson to cut the lead to 7-5.
It would stay a tense game over the next couple of innings. Could Sioux City come back? That was answered in the bottom of the eighth when the Wingnuts put the game out of reach. Stringer walked to start the inning but was thrown out trying to steal. Zack Cox then singled and Clevlen followed with a single to put two on with one out. That brought Mittelstaedt to the plate. He lined a shot to the wall in center and raced hard out of the box. Both Cox and Clevlen came into score. The throw attempted to nail Mittelstaedt stretching his hit into a triple, but it was off line and got away from the third basemen. That allowed Mittelstaedt to score and it was 10-5.
Frankie Reed came on in the ninth and walked the lead-off batter. However, that would be the last glimmer of hope for the Sioux City Explorers. The Wichita closer would then retire the next three batters to end the contest and the Wichita Wingnuts had punched their ticket to the American Association championship series.
Besides the performances of Clevlen and Kain, three other Wingnuts batters had at least two-hits in the game. Both Stringer and Cox were 2-4 with a run scored. Stringer added an RBI. Medina was 2-4 with a run and 2-RBI. Robinson and Samson had 4-hits apiece for the Sioux City Explorers.
The Wichita Wingnuts await the winner of the Winnipeg Goldeyes-St. Paul Saints series to see who they will play. Should St. Paul win Monday night then Wichita will host Games 1 and 2 on Wednesday and Thursday. If Winnipeg should prevail, the Wingnuts will be northward bound for Game 1.
By Robert Pannier