Jason Van Skike Leads Lesson on Art of Rebounding, Wichita Wingnuts Win 4-2
When most people think of teaching how to properly rebound they think of this in terms of basketball. Professor Jason Van Skike teaches that baseball is a great place to lecture on the art of rebounding as he followed up his toughest outing of the year with an outstanding performance in leading the Wichita Wingnuts to a 4-2 victory over the Grand Prairie AirHogs, giving the team a four-game sweep of the series.
In his last start Van Skike was hit hard, allowing 11 hits and 7 runs in 5 innings. It was a tough outing, but the professor at Wingnuts U showed how to rebound after a difficult start. He allowed four runs through the first two innings in that start against Kansas City. On this night he kept the AirHogs off the scoreboard through the first two innings.
In the third Grand Prairie plated two. Jamodrick McGruder singled with one out and moved to second when Ronnie Richardson was hit by a pitch. Zane Chavez followed with a double that scored both runners.
That would be all the runs Van Skike (5-2) would allow. He allowed a lone single over the next three innings, and that runner was erased trying to steal second base. In 6 innings of work, the right-hander allowed 4 hits, a walk and 2 runs, while striking out 3.
While their starter was delivering his lesson, the offense kept the pressure on Grand Prairie’s Blake Oliver. The Wichita Wingnuts scored their first run of the game in the second inning. Matt Padgett and Luis Hernandez led the inning off with back-to-back walks and Brent Dean singled to load the bases. Harrison Kain grounded into a fielder’s choice that scored Padgett to make it 1-0.
Following the two-runs that Grand Prairie scored in the third the Wingnuts scored a run in the top of the fourth to tie the game. Padgett singled to start the frame and, following a wild pitch, came home to score when Hernandez doubled.
In the fifth Wichita took the lead for good. David Espinosa walked to start the inning. Oliver retired the next two hitters, but Starlin Rodriguez came up with a huge hit, drilling an 0-1 pitch from Oliver for a two-run home run to make it 4-2. That was Rodriguez’s first home run of the season.
With Van Skike out of the game, manager Kevin Hooper turned to his bullpen, who have been absolutely lights out of late. They delivered again on this night. Daniel Bennett struck out both hitters he faced in the seventh, and Al Yevoli retired the lone hitter he faced in the inning. Frankie Reed pitched a perfect eighth, striking out two. Dakota Watts closed out the ninth for his fifth save of the season.
Espinosa continues to be an on-base machine, going 2-3 with a run and 2 walks. The veteran raised his on-base percentage to .430, fourth best in the American Association. In his last five games he has drawn eight walks to go along with seven hits.
By Robert Pannier