Jon Link Continues Dominance of Canaries, Wichita Wingnuts Win 15-5
A night after Alex Boshers held the Sioux Falls Canaries to two-runs in his second complete game of the season, Jon Link took to the hill looking to continue the Wichita Wingnuts dominance of the North Division team. Link tossed six scoreless innings on a hot Sunday afternoon in Wichita, as the Wingnuts won 15-5 to take the first three games of the series. Zack Cox also had quite the day, going 4-5 with 3-runs and 5-RBI, including hitting for the cycle.
Link was in complete control of this game from the start, allowing just one-hit through the first four innings of the game. He retired the first eight Sioux Falls hitters, before giving up a two out single to Mike Falsetti in the third.
In the fifth, the Canaries would start what looked like it would turn into a big rally. Ozney Guillen started the inning with a single. Cameron Monger then grounded to short, but Leo Vargas was looking to get the double-play. Instead, he dropped the ball pulling it from his glove and both runners were safe. Ethan Chapman then laid down a perfect bunt that he beat out for a single and the bases were loaded with no one out. At the time Sioux Falls trailed by just two, and this was their chance to tie the game, if not take the lead. Link was having none of that however. He struck out the next three batters to keep the Canaries off the scoreboard.
While Link was shutting down Sioux Falls, his team staked him to a 2-0 lead in the third. In the bottom of the third, Richard Prigatano started the inning by beating out a ground ball to short for a single. The throw from short was wild and the error allowed him to move to second. A wild pitch sent him to third and Brent Dean followed with a single that brought home Prigatano to make it 1-0. Vargas followed with a single to move Dean to second, and Zack Cox doubled to left to bring home Dean to give Wichita a two-run lead.
Following the Houdini-like performance of Link in the top of the fifth, his team added three in the bottom half of the inning. Vargas doubled to start the frame and scored on a single by Christian Stringer. Zack Cox then turned on a 2-2 pitch and drilled it for his eighth homer of the year to make it 5-0.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Wingnuts would blow the game open. Prigatano and Dean were both hit by a pitch to put two on with no one out. Vargas then delivered his third hit of the contest, plating Prigatano. Dean was caught trying to steal home, but Stringer walked to put two on with one out. Cox then drilled a triple to the wall in center to score both runners. Brent Clevlen followed with a double that scored Cox to make it 9-0.
Link (7-2) would be done after six. He allowed just 4-hits and no-walks, striking out 8 for the victory.
Jesse Pratt would come on in the eight and yield three-runs. Monger broke up the shut out with his fifth homer of the year. Back-to-back walks to Aaron Owen and Falsetti preceded a two-run double by Darwin Perez that scored both runners.
In the top of the eighth, Sioux Falls added one more run. Guillen reached on a two-base error to start the inning and scored on a ground out by Monger. For the game Monger finished 1-4 with a run and 2-RBI.
In the bottom half of the eighth, the Wingnuts would move the lead to 11 thanks to some sloppy defense behind Dave Bergin. The game was virtually over, with the big drama being whether Cox would hit for the cycle. He needed only a single, and he got that when he ripped a 2-2 pitch to left to start the inning. That started a rally that saw the Wingnuts hit a triple and three doubles, two of which should have been caught. Medina and Vargas added 2-RBI each in the inning. Wichita sent 11-men to the plate in scoring six-runs.
In the ninth, the Canaries added one more run. Michael Pair drew a walk to start the frame, moved to second on defensive indifference, and reached third on a ground out. He then stole home to score Sioux Falls’ fifth run of the game.
For Wichita, Cox finished 4-5 with 3-runs and 5-RBI. Vargas also was 4-5, scoring twice and driving in 3. Prigatano was a perfect 3-3, with 3-runs, a walk and a HBP. Monger and Perez each drove in two for Sioux Falls.
The final game of this four-game series will be Monday at 7:05. The Wingnuts will send Todd Kibby (0-0, 1.80) to the hill looking for the sweep. The Sioux Falls Canaries will ask Shawn Blackwell (5-4, 7.08) to end their eight-game losing streak.
By Robert Pannier