Jeudy Valdez delivers Walk-Off Win in 11th to Give Lemurs 5-4 Win over Wingnuts
Wichita Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper entered the season as a vocal opponent of the American Association adopting the new international rule for extra-inning games. After his club fell for the third time this season in these type of contests, one can only suppose that the Wingnuts skipper’s vocalization against the rule has gotten significantly louder.
Regardless of how the game ended, the Wingnuts had to feel like they let this one get away. The Wingnuts had a 3-0 and 4-1 lead, but the Laredo Lemurs battled back to tie the score before winning in the 11th, 5-4.
The Wingnuts grabbed the lead in the top of the first inning. Jayce Ray led off the game with a single to center field and moved to second when David Espinosa walked. Laredo starter Luis Pollorena got two fly ball outs but Matt Padgett delivered a huge clutch double to drive home Ray and put Wichita on top 1-0.
In the third the visitors extended their lead. Espinosa singled to start the rally and moved to third on an error. Andy LaRoche hit into a double-play that scored Espinosa to make it a two-run lead.
In the fourth John Nester lead off by drawing a walk and moved to second on a single by Harrison Kain. Taylor Smart laid down a perfect bunt to move both runners up 90-feet. Two batters later Ray walked to load the bases, and Nester scored on a wild pitch.
It was 3-0 and the Wingnuts seemed to be in complete control. Wichita starter Jason Van Skike looked quite impressive through the first three frames, only allowing three walks. In the bottom of the fourth the Lemurs finally recorded their first hit of the inning, when Kevin Taylor doubled to start the bottom half of the inning. Denis Phipps followed with a single that brought home Taylor and the score was 3-1.
The Wingnuts responded right away in their half of the fifth inning. Pollorena got the first out of the inning, but Andy LaRoche continued his hot start since joining Wichita, blasting a 1-0 pitch for his second home run in five games. That made it 4-1.
In the sixth Laredo got two of those runs back, and it was the long ball that got them back in the game. Juan Silverio hit his ninth home run of the season with one out in the inning to make it a two-run game. Two batters later Phipps hit his 11th of the season to make it 4-3. It was the second straight night that Phipps homered.
Into the eighth the game went with Wichita clinging to a one-run lead. Iden Nazario came on to relieve and found himself in a bit of trouble right off, partially of his own making. Ty Morrison started the rally with a single, and Silverio followed with a comebacker that Nazario could not make a play on, making it first and second with no one out. Taylor’s sacrifice moved both runners into scoring position, and Nazario issued an intentional walk to load the bases.
That brought a call for Brad Orosey to try to stop the inning from being a big one. He got Dvontrey Richardson to pop out into shallow right field for the second out, but then walked Dustin Geiger to drive home the tying run.
Neither team could muster a run over the next two innings, setting up the dramatic 11th inning. Padgett began the inning at second base, and Hooper had him bunted him over to put a runner at third with one out. Laredo brought the infield in, but Kain grounded sharply to third for the second out as Padgett had to hold. Smart then hit a ball down the line at third, but Silverio made a nice play to gun down Smart to keep the game tied.
In the bottom of the inning Richardson started on second. The Lemurs also chose to bunt over the runner, with Geiger successfully laying down his first bunt attempt of the season to put Richardson at third. That brought Jeudy Valdez to the plate, who ripped a single into left field to score the runner, and the Lemurs were the winners.
B.J. Hyatt earned the victory with one perfect inning of relief. He is now a perfect 3-0.
The Lemurs comeback win moved them five out of Wichita in the South Division. They are one game behind the Joplin Blasters for the Wild Card lead.
By Robert Pannier