J.D. Pulfer Drives in Three to Lead Laredo Lemurs in Pitchers’ Duel
Wednesday night saw an exciting pitchers’ duel, as the Laredo Lemurs and Wichita Wingnuts battled through a scoreless tie for seven innings. The Wingnuts broke through for a run in the eighth, only to watch the Lemurs score three in the bottom half of the inning to take the lead and Laredo prevailed 3-1.
This was an outstanding pitchers’ duel from the very start. Barrett Loux was making his second start for the Laredo Lemurs and he was quite sharp. The right-hander scattered five-hits through seven innings, walking two and striking out nine.
The only trouble the Laredo starter found himself in was in the third. A one out single by Zack Cox was followed by a walk to Brent Clevlen that put two on. Loux then threw a wild pitch that moved both runners into scoring position, but the right-hander was brilliant under pressure, striking out the next batter before getting a fly out to end the inning.
Russ Kussmaul was making his first start for Wichita and he, too, looked absolutely magnificent. The Wichita starter allowed just one-hit in his seven-innings of work, that came in the bottom of the second when Denis Phipps led off the frame with a single. A walk to Abel Nieves would put runners at first and second with two outs, and Phipps then stole third to put runners at the corners. Kussmaul proved to be equally as poised, getting the final out on a ground out to end the threat.
The final out of the second started a run of eight straight batters retired by Kussmaul and only ended when Nieves drew a one-out walk in the fifth. Leonardo Castro was then hit by a pitch and the Lemurs had something going, but Kussmaul struck out Alvaro Rondon before getting a fly ball out to keep the game tied at zero.
Kussmaul would be done after seven innings. Besides the one-hit, he walked two batters and stuck out six. It was an impressive debut to say the least.
In the top of the eighth, Laredo turned to Kamakani Usui, and the Wingnuts were finally able to get on the board. Clevlen walked to start the inning, and T.J. Mittelstaedt followed with a single to center that put two on with no one out.
Manager Pete Incaviglia decided it was time to make a change and brought in Jeff Inman. The reliever gave up a single that loaded the bases and brought the infield in. Dustin Geiger then grounded to short, but Rondon threw home to cut the runner at the plate. Richard Prigatano followed with a walk to score Mittelstaedt and it was 1-0 Wichita. The inning could have gotten out of control, but Inman induced a double-play to end the threat and keep it a one-run game.
Jesse Pratt came on for Wichita in the eighth looking to hold the lead, but he could not do so. Ty Morrison singled with one out and Zane Chavez walked two batters later to put two on with two outs. Phipps then drew a walk to load the bases, and the Wingnuts opted to go with reliever Franke Reed. The lefty has been brilliant of late, but his 2-0 pitch to Pulfer was drilled to the wall in center, clearing the bases and giving the Laredo Lemurs the 3-1 lead.
In the ninth, Troy Marks came on to close it out for Laredo. He retired the side in order for his first save of the season. Inman (2-1) earned the victory, and Pratt (1-1) took the loss.
Wichita heads back home to face the Sioux City Explorers. The Laredo Lemurs are off.
By Robert Pannier