Medina, Salgado Help Complete Wichita Wingnuts Comeback, 10-8
Half-way through Wednesday night’s game it looked like the St. Paul Saints were going to coast to a victory over the Wichita Wingnuts. The enthusiasm of getting left-hander Kramer Sneed back had the team flying high, and a four-run fourth staked him to an 8-2 lead. However, the Wingnuts refused to give in, battling back behind a three-run homer from Brennen Salgado and a two-run single from Martin Medina to down the Saints 10-8.
Things got off to a great start for the Saints right away. Kramer Sneed gave up a hit and a walk in the top of the first, but then struck out the final two batters of the inning to keep the Wingnuts off the scoreboard. In the bottom of the first, Alonzo Harris walked to start the inning and then stole second base. Eddie Medina retired the next two batters, but David Bergin, playing in just his second game for the Saints, crushed a 1-1 pitch over the left field wall to make it 2-0.
The Wingnuts responded with a run in the top of the second. Nick Van Stratten led off with a single and stole second base. He moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Zack Cox to make it 2-1.
It would stay that way headed into the third. Medina had looked good in the second, but an error hurt him in the third. With one out Ryan Cavan walked. Tony Thomas then grounded to short and it looked like Leo Vargas would turn a double-play, but he booted the ball allowing both runners reach safely. Bergin then worked the count full before lining a double to the wall in center that scored both runners. It was 4-1.
Wichita would plate a run in the top of the fourth to bring it back within two. Sneed retired the first two batters of the inning, but Vargas kept the inning alive with a base hit to left. Christian Stringer followed with a single and Cox brought home Vargas with a base hit to right. That made it 4-2.
The Saints responded right away. In the bottom half of the inning, Trever Adams walked to lead off, but replaced on the base paths on a fielder’s choice by Aaron Gretz. Breland Almadova followed with a walk, but Medina retired Harris. With two down the Saints were looking for a clutch hit and Cavan delivered, singling to right to drive in Gretz. That would be the first of an impressive run of two-out hits. Tony Thomas followed with a double that brought home Almadova and move Gretz to third. Next up was Bergin, who continued his hot night with a double down the line in left that scored both runners. That gave Bergin a career high 6-RBI but, more importantly, it gave the St. Paul Saints a commanding 8-2 lead.
This game looked all but over, but the Wichita Wingnuts refused to go away. In the fifth a controversial play opened the door to the comeback. Sneed retired the first two hitters of the inning, but a single by Van Stratten kept the inning going. Next up was Martin Medina. He grounded a ball down to third and it looked like he had been thrown out, but the umpire ruled that Bergin did not have his foot on the bag. That made it first and third with two down, and Brennen Salgado at the plate. On the first pitch from Sneed, Salgado crushed it over the right field fence to make it 8-5.
In the sixth, the Wingnuts would take the lead. Stringer walked to start the frame and Brent Clevlen drew a walk two batters later to put two on with one out. T.J. Mittelstaedt followed with a base hit that scored Stringer. Matt Chavez followed with a single into left that scored Clevlen and, after a ground out moved both runners into scoring position, Martin Medina greeted reliever Caleb Theilbar with a two run single to give Wichita their first lead of the game. It was an amazing comeback to say the least.
In the eighth the Wingnuts extended their lead.to two. With one out, Chavez absolutely crushed a Thielbar offering that hit off the top of the batter’s eye wall in center for his 11th homerun of the year. That made it 10-8.
In the ninth, Frankie Reed came on for Wichita looking for his 19th save of the season. The lefty retired the first batter of the inning, but then gave up back-to-back singles. Bergin then struck out for the second out of the inning, but Nate Hanson walked to load the bases with two outs, bringing Vinny DiFazio to the plate. He worked the count to 2-2 before flying out to left to end the game.
Mike Devine (1-0) earned the victory with two-scoreless innings of relief. Reed earned the save. Benji Waite (2-2) took the loss.
Every Wingnuts hitter but one had at least one-hit in the game. Cox was 3-6 with an RBI. Salgado was 2-5 with a run and 4-RBI. Stringer, Chavez, Van Stratten, and Medina each had 2-hits as well. Bergin finished 2-5 with a run and his career high 6-RBI. Hanson, Cavan, and Thomas each had 2-hits for the Saints.
Both teams are off tomorrow before beginning huge series this weekend. The Winguts head home to take on the Texas AirHogs. St. Paul will head to Lincoln.
By Robert Pannier