Joplin Pitching, Clutch Hits Deliver 6-3 Victory Over Wichita Wingnuts
The Wichita Wingnuts had to feel pretty good about themselves entering this weekend’s five-game series against the Joplin Blasters. The club was at home, had won both of their last two games, and the Blasters had lost their last three, putting the two games into a tie for first place in the South Division of the American Association. This was tailor-made to be the kind of series where the Wingnuts would take four of the games and ride the momentum all the way to the division crown. Those plans have not worked out so far.
After being swept in last night’s double-header, the Wingnuts found themselves on the losing end again, as the team could not take advantage of nine free passes given up by Joplin’s pitching staff. Three hits was all that Wichita could muster and this directly led to them not capitalizing on their chances when they had them.
Tim Brown started for the Wichita Wingnuts, and he was being hit pretty hard through the first five innings, but the hits were not clumped together, keeping him from suffering any real damage. Joplin did get a run in the third when Jesus Solorzano scored on a single by Mitch Glasser to make it 1-0.
Meanwhile, Joplin Blasters starter Matt Parish was pitching well. Despite the five walks he had given up through the first six frames, he had yielded only one hit. In the sixth walks came back to haunt him. Jayce Ray and David Espinosa drew free passes with one out. Joash Brodin was the next batter and he grounded a single just past the first baseman’s reach driving home Ray. Two batters later Dustin Geiger doubled down the left field line, bringing both Espinosa and Brodin home to give the Wingnuts their first lead in the series.
That brought the crowd to life, but the enthusiasm did not last long. In the top of the seventh the Joplin Blasters got two runs back to tie the game. Solorzano singled to begin the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice by Gabe Suarez. Oscar Mesa followed with a shot down the left field line that resulted in a triple. Mitch Glasser then executed a perfect suicide squeeze bunt to tie the score.
In the next inning it was back-to-back triples that did the Wingnuts in. Jake Taylor had the first of them with one out, and Steven Tinoco followed with the second, scoring Taylor. A ground out by Solorzano scored Tinoco and it was 5-3 Joplin.
In the ninth they would add an insurance run, Mesa walked and moved to second on a sacrifice. He then stole third base and scored on a wild pitch. A run was plated without a single hit, and the only contact on the ball came on a sacrifice. An amazing job of manufacturing a run by manager Carlos Lezcano.
Gabe Aguilar (1-0) earned the victory for Joplin with 2.2 scoreless innings of relief. Frankie Reed (0-1) took the loss in his first appearance for the Wichita Wingnuts.
Keep up to date on the Wingnuts with Short Hops with Kevin Hooper.
By Robert Pannier