T. J. Mittelstaedt Homers to Lead Wichita Wingnuts to 8-5 Victory
It has been a tough early part to the season, as blown leads have been one of the culprits that have led the Wichita Wingnuts to a 1-5 start to the season. It looked like this was going to be the case again on Thursday night, as the Wingnuts jumped out to a 2-o lead early, but a four-run third staked the Joplin Blasters to a 5-2 lead and it looked like it would be more of the same. However, T.J. Mittelstaedt’s three-run home run in the seventh staked Wichita to a 7-5 lead and they would win 8-5.
Wichita came out firing in the top of the first. Christian Stringer led off the game with a walk and moved to second on a single by Zack Cox. With Brent Clevlen at the plate, both runners would steal a base. A ground out by Dustin Geiger scored Stringer, and a fielder’s choice would bring home Cox to make it 2-0.
With Tim Brown on the hill for Wichita that lead looked like a pretty good cushion, but Geraldo Valentin would get one of those runs back in the bottom of the first when he hit his first homerun of the season.
In the second neither team could plate a run, but in the third the Blasters would take the lead. Jesus Solorzano singled to start the inning, and moved to second when Zack Burling followed with a single. Aaron Brill’s base hit loaded the bases and Mitch Glasser followed with a single that scored Solorzano to tie the score. Valentin hit into a double-play to make it two down, and it looked like Brown just needed a break in this inning. He was not getting hit hard; it was just that the hits were finding gaps. That changed with Willie Cabrera, who drilled a three-run homer to make it 5-2. It was Cabrera’s first homerun of the season.
It had the feel like the wind had been sucked out of the Wichita Wingnuts, but there is no quit in Manager Pete Rose, Jr. or his team. The Wingnuts came right back with two runs in the top of the fourth. Harrison Kain reached on an error with one out and Brennen Salgado followed by drawing a walk. That made it two on with one out. Two batters later Stringer singled to score Kain and Cox followed with a base hit to score Salgado to make it a one-run game.
That is the way it would remain until the seventh when Mittelstaedt would change the game entirely. Cox got the inning started with a double. The Wingnuts third baseman had a huge game, going 3-5 with two runs and an RBI. Two batters later Dustin Geiger was hit by a pitch to put two on with one out. That brought Mittelstaedt to the plate who took the first pitch from Tyler Herr and went deep with his first home run of the year. The Wingnuts would not give back the lead.
In the ninth, a Mittelstaedt double scored Geiger to close out the scoring. That made it 8-5. Brown earned his first win of the season. Reed earned his first save. Herr took the loss.
Mittelstaedt finished the game 3-4 with a run and 4-RBI. Cox and Geiger each scored two-runs.
From here the Wichita Wingnuts (2-5) move on to take on the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks (3-4). The Joplin Blasters (4-3) head to play Gary Southshore (2-6).
By Robert Pannier