Dustin Geiger Leads Wichita Wingnuts Lesson on Never Giving Up
They say that strength comes from adversity. That in tough times the ones that prove themselves to be champions are the ones who learn from their struggles and then use their triumphs to become even more formidable than ever. For three seasons the Wichita Wingnuts have dominated the American Association, holding first place in their division for over three years, but they began the day in second place, looking up for the first time in years.
Some teams would crumble under the pressure of their struggles. The weight of not being as good as previous teams can be a burden too much for some to bear. This is the kind of lesson that they specialize in teaching at Wingnuts University, and Monday night new professor Dustin Geiger gave a lecture for the ages of how to carry a team back from a the brink of crashing.
The game got off on the right foot for the Wichita Wingnuts. Stephen Bougher started for the Sioux Falls Canaries and found himself in trouble almost immediately. After retiring the Wingnuts in the first, Wichita plated two runs in the second. Professor Geiger began his lesson with a ground-rule double to begin the inning, and scored when Matt Padgett singled two batters later. Two batters after that Luis Hernandez drove Padgett home with a base hit to make it 2-0.
In the bottom of the third it was time for the professor to deliver another lesson. T.J. Mittelstaedt remained hot, hitting his sixth home run of the season to lead-off the frame. Two batters later David Espinosa singled to bring Geiger back to the plate. The first pitch he saw he ripped over the left field wall for his seventh home run of the season. The tw0-run homer extended the Wingnuts lead to 5-0.
Wingnuts starter Charlie Lowell cruised through the first three innings, but in the fourth things came crashing in on him. The Sioux Falls Canaries scored eight runs on nine hits. A total of 12 hitters came to bat in the inning, as Lowell simply could not find a way to end the inning. The first seven batters hit their way on base with Richard Stock plating two with a two-run single. Chris Grayson added a two-run double, and Jerome Pena had two hits in the inning. Pena singled to begin the rally, and drove home the last run with a triple.
That would have crushed a lot of teams’ spirits, but overcoming adversity is a prime lesson at Wingnuts U. In the bottom of the fourth the Wingnuts pulled back within one. Jayce Ray singled with one out, and Alberto Gonzalez reached on an error. In typical Kevin Hooper style, both runners went for the stolen base and reached to put both in scoring position. With two outs David Espinosa singled the runners home and it was 8-7.
In the fifth the Wichita Wingnuts retook the lead. Joash Brodin singled to lead-off the inning, and that would be it for Bougher. Mike Watt took over and gave up a single to Padgett to put runners at the corners with no one out. John Nester followed with a base hit that plated Brodin to tie the game. Back to the double-steal the team went, with Padgett and Nester taking the base to put both into scoring position. Hernandez drove home Padgett with a sacrifice fly to give the home team the 9-8 lead, and it was amazing how the team had bounced back to take the lead in a game where they had just given up eight runs in one inning.
In the sixth the amazing comeback hit a gigantic snag. Lowell walked Jason Repko and Vickash Ramjit reached on an error to put two on with no one out. Al Yevoli took over for Lowell. Chris Grayson singled to score Repko to retie the game. Two batters later Brian Humphries drove home Ramjit and David Bergin then plated Grayson to give the Canaries the two-run lead.
It had been a five-run Wingnuts lead, turned into a Canaries three-run lead, back to Wichita one-run lead, returned to a Sioux Falls two-run lead. The game was a wild one for sure.
After giving up three, the Wingnuts do what they do best – respond. They came up with three runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning, and their new professor led the way. Tyler Pearson came in for Sioux Falls. Gonzalez doubled to begin the inning and Espinosa walked to put two on and no one out. That brought Geiger to the plate, who lined a double into the gap to score both runners and tie the game. Geiger then came around to score on a wild pitch to give the home team the lead. A lead that, this time, they would not relinquish.
In the bottom of the seventh the Wingnuts added an insurance run. Josh Ferrell gave up a single with one out, and Espinosa walked to put two on with one out. Geiger followed with a single that scored Gonzalez.
That gave the Wingnuts first baseman a 4-5 day, with 3 runs and 5 RBI. He added two doubles to give him six, and a home run, his seventh. That ties him for second in the American Association.
After Lowell struggled, the Wingnuts bullpen came up big. Yevoli (3-0) allowed one run, but still got the win. Daniel Bennett and Daniel Carela each pitched a scoreless inning. In the ninth the club turned to their ace closer, Matt Nevarez, who earned his eighth save of the season.
The Wichita Wingnuts pounded out 16 hits. Everyone in the Wingnuts lineup had at least one hit. Espinosa was 2-3, with 2 runs, 2 RBI, and 2 walks. Grayson was 3-5 with 2 runs and 3 RBI in the loss.
By Robert Pannier