Nester, Brodin Power Wichita Wingnuts in Rain-Shortened Game
The Amarillo Thunderheads didn’t take their nickname for nothing. Friday night proved that as their game against the Wichita Wingnuts was shortened by rain, and the visitors came away with a 3-2 win behind some outstanding pitching and some timely hitting.
The pitching part came from right-hander Jason Van Skike. With the club struggling to produce offense, manager Kevin Hooper has needed to lean on his pitching staff even more, and tonight he got an outstanding start from his veteran.
This was a contest that was bordering on a must win for the Wingnuts, and Van Skike pitched tonight like he understood that. Through the first three innings the right-hander allowed just two singles to keep the Thunderheads hitters from mounting any kind of a rally.
In the fourth Amarillo finally got to the righty. Stefan Gartrell doubled with one out and moved to third on a single by Juan Martinez. Two batters later Corey Bass doubled to score both runners. From there Van Skike retired six of the next seven hitters.
While the Wichita Wingnuts starter was doing his job, his offense was putting up just enough runs for him. In the third Luis Hernandez led off with a single and moved to third on a base hit by Leo Vargas. Matt Larkins struck out the next two hitters, and looked like he would escape the inning unscathed, but Joash Brodin came up with a huge two-out double to score both runners.
In the fourth catcher John Nester led off the inning with his second home run of the season. That run became the difference maker when the Thunderheads scored two runs in the bottom half of that inning.
In the top of the seventh the rain became much heavier, and after the top half of the inning the umpires pulled both teams off the field. The storm brought torrential rains and heavy winds, and after about an hour the umpires called the game.
Van Skike (4-1) recorded the complete game win. He pitched 6 innings allowing 6 hits, a walk and 2 runs. He struck out 5. Larkins (5-2) took the tough-luck loss. The Amarillo starter went 7 innings, allowing 6 hits, a walk and 3 earned runs. He struck out 7. Larkins threw 111 pitches in 7 innings, 73 of which were strikes.
Brodin finished 1-3 with 2 RBI. He increased his RBI total to 14. Nester’s home run now gives him 15 RBI on the season. Nester was 1-2 with a walk.
By Robert Pannier