Omar Bencomo Dazzles in Wichita Wingnuts 5-2 Victory
The Wichita Wingnuts were happy to see Omar Bencomo dawn the club’s uniform again a couple of weeks ago, but the left-hander has struggled since his return to the team. That was not the case Wednesday night, as Bencomo dazzled the Grand Prairie AirHogs for six innings in leading the club to a 5-2 victory.
While making an impressive start, it did not get off on a particularly good foot for the Wingnuts starter. He retired the side in the first without giving up a run, but in the bottom of the second inning the AirHogs got on the board to take the lead. Zane Chavez singled with one out and came all the way around to score on a double by Ridge Hoopii-Haslam to make it 1-0.
The Wichita Wingnuts responded right away in the top of the third. With one out Leo Vargas reached on an error, stole second and reached third on a wild pitch. Jayce Ray grounded out to drive Vargas home and the Wingnuts had manufactured a run without registering a hit.
In the bottom of the third Grand Prairie took the lead right back. The Wichita starter hit Ronnie Richardson with one out. Richardson stole second and moved to third on an error. Willie Cabrera’s single scored Richardson at it was a one-run lead for the AirHogs again.
That would be all the runs that Bencomo would allow. The left-hander had allowed three hits and a walk through his first three innings of work, but he would allow just a single hit over the next three innings. That one hit came in the fifth, and he picked off the runner immediately.
With their starter pitching extremely well, the Wingnuts offense finally took the lead in the top of the sixth. T.J. Bozeman had started for Grand Prairie, and he had looked absolutely brilliant through the first five innings. The Wichita hitters seemed to have no answer, but in the sixth they figured out the right equation to finally mount a rally.
David Espinosa reached on a walk to begin the inning and moved to third on a ground rule double by TJ Mittelstaedt. Two batters later Matt Padgett drove home both runners with a single to give the Wingnuts their first lead of the game. Padgett came home when Harrison Kain doubled to make it 4-2.
In the top of the seventh the visitors extended their lead. Luis Hernandez led off with a single and moved to second on a walk to Ray. Espinosa walked to load the bases, and Joash Brodin drew a five pitch walk of his own to drive home Hernandez. That made it 5-2, which was the final score.
The Wichita Wingnuts bullpen continued to look very impressive. Frankie Reed pitched a perfect inning of relief in the seventh. Al Yevoli loaded the bases in the eighth with just two outs, but Daniel Bennett got the final out to end the threat. In the ninth Dakota Watts came in to close out the game. He retired the first hitter of the inning, but then gave up a single to Chavez and a walk to Hoopii-Haslam to put two on with one out. Watts showed why he is such a good closer, striking out Chris Elder before getting Robi Estrada to groundout to end the game. Watts earned his third save.
Bencomo (5-0) earned the victory to keep his record unblemished. The left-hander lasted 6 innings, allowing 4 hits, a walk and 2 runs, only one of which was earned. He struck out 9, including three of the final six hitters he faced.
Mittelstaedt, Kain and Hernandez all had two hits in four trips to the plate. Padgett drove home two for the winners.
Boxscore Provided by the American Association
By Robert Pannier