Lincoln Saltdogs Slug Way to 9-6 Victory Over Wingnuts
If anyone had any doubts about the Lincoln Saltdogs 2-1 record early on, they shouldn’t be doubting now. The Nebraskan team powered their way to victory, slugging four homeruns on their way to the 9-6 victory over the Wichita Wingnuts. That gave them a series win over the Wingnuts, something they had not accomplished since June of 2014.
The Saltdogs bats got going early against young Wichita fireballer Eddie Medina. Christian Ibarra started off the game with a walk and scored when Alexi Colon followed with a double. Two batters later Colon moved to third on a wild pitch and Luis Alen walked to put first and third with just one out. A second wild pitch scored Colon and Alen scored when Jon Smith singled. That made the score 3-0.
In the bottom of the second, the Wichita Wingnuts got one of those runs back. Bennett Parry looked sharp in the first and pitched well for the Saltdogs, but he allowed just one mistake. With one out in the second, Richard Prigatano took him deep for his first home run of the season to make it a two-run game.
From there, the Lincoln Saltdogs hitters got on a roll. In the top of the fourth, Medina retired the first two hitters of the inning, but Chase Harris kept it alive with a single to left field. That brought Ibarra back to the plate and he launched one over the fence for his first home run of the season. That extended the lead to four.
In the fifth, Lincoln added two more runs. Curt Smith was the first hitter of the inning, and he took the Wingnuts starter deep to make it 6-1. That was Smith’s second homerun of the season. Three batters later it would be another Smith, Jon in this case, who would extend the lead with his first homer of the year.
Leading 7-1 entering the top of the sixth, it would be Pat Kelly’s opportunity to join in the long ball show. Carson Goldsmith took over for Medina, but with not much improvement in results. Kelly took a first pitch ball, then belted his first home run of the season to make it 8-1.
Parry (1-0) left after five and he had pitched a gem. The Lincoln starter allowed just 2-hits, 3-walks and an earned run, while fanning 5. Randy Zeigler took over in the sixth and he threw two scoreless and very impressive innings and this game looked like it was all but over, but the Wingnuts have no quit in them.
Trailing 8-1 entering the bottom of the eighth, Wichita put up two against Matt Brazis. T.J. Mittelstaedt and Harrison Kain led off with back-to-back singles and both moved into scoring position on a ground out by Prigatano. Brennen Salgado was the next hitter and he drilled a double to the wall that scored both runners, and pulled the Wingnuts within five.
In the top of the ninth Lincoln would add one more run. Curt Smith doubled to start the frame and moved to third on a single. Smith would score when the other Smith hit a sacrifice fly to make it 9-3.
In the bottom of the ninth, Wichita made it a very close game. Zac Wescott came on in relief and retired the first batter, but the dreaded walk got the inning going, and Mittelstaedt followed with a single that moved Dustin Geiger to second. A walk by Kain loaded the bases and Prigatano followed with a single that plated two.
That would be it for Westcott. Manager Bobby Brown turned to Jeff McKenzie, but Salgado kept the rally going with a single that scored Kain. The game would get a lot more dramatic when Matt Chavez delivered a pinch-hit single, bringing the tying run to the plate, but Christian Stringer flew out to end the contest and give McKenzie his first save of the season.
Jon Smith led the Saltdogs offense with a 3-4 performance. He scored a run and drove in three. Curt Smith was 2-5 with 2-runs and an RBI.
Mittelstaedt had the big bat for Wichita, going 3-4 with 2-runs scored. Prigatano drove in three of the Wingnuts runs, and had two hits in four trips to the plate.
The Wichita Wingnuts are off tomorrow before heading to Joplin to play the Blasters. Jon Link looks to rebound from his first start of the season. The Lincoln Saltdogs move on to Kansas City where they begin a three-game series tomorrow night.
By Robert Pannier