T.J. Mittelstaedt Ignites Wichita Wingnuts to 7-4 Victory
He may not be putting up the same kind of numbers that American Association MVP Brett Clevlen put up last year, but T.J. Mittelstaedt has quickly established that he is just as vital to the success of the Wichita Wingnuts offense. Wednesday afternoon the club was struggling to back another quality start by Tim Brown, as Jeremy Strawn was shutting the Wingnuts down through the first four innings, but Mittelstaedt helped to jump start the offense in the fifth, leading the team to their eighth win in their last nine contests.
The Canaries got on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning when Chris Grayson led off the game with a base hit and scored on a double by Jerome Pena. Two innings later Jake Luce doubled to start the frame and scored when David Bergin doubled to make it 2-0.
Strawn was in complete control through the first four innings. The only hit he allowed came in the first when Mittelstaedt tripled with two outs, but was left stranded. Two walks were the only other base runners allowed and it looked like this was going to be a very tough day for the Wingnuts hitters.
In the fifth they were finally able to get something going. Strawn retired the first hitter of the inning, but Harrison Kain singled with one out to get the rally going. Two batters later David Espinosa, the human walk machine, drew the base on balls, and Mittelstaedt followed with a double that plated both runners to tie the score. Starlin Rodriguez followed with a triple that brought in Mittelstaedt to give the Wichita Wingnuts their first lead of the game.
In the sixth the home team extended their lead with another big two out rally. Strawn retired the first two hitters of the inning, but Luis Hernandez reached on an error to keep the inning alive. Kain followed with a double to put both runners in scoring position, bringing Jayce Ray to the plate. He took a ball then doubled to the wall to bring both runners home, extending the lead to three. Ray then stole third and came into score on a wild pitch that made it 6-2.
Brown loaded the bases in the fourth with one out, but pitched brilliantly, getting Luce to fly out and Grayson to ground out to end the inning. In the fifth the Wingnuts starter hit Bergin with one out and gave up a single to Brian Humphries, but then got a hard grounder right back to Brown that he turned into a double-play. In the sixth he had his best inning of the game, retiring the Canaries in order.
In the seventh Sioux Falls got right back into the game. Luce reached on an error and advanced to third on back-to-back ground outs. Bergin then doubled to bring in Luce and Humphries followed with a double of his own that made it 7-4. That would be it for the Wingnuts starter.
Brown (7-1) had another solid outing, lasting 6.2 innings, giving up 11 hits and no walks. He struck out 3 and gave up 4 runs, although only 2 were earned. It was Brown’s sixth quality start out of his last seven, and fourth win in a row.
In the bottom of the seventh the Wichita Wingnuts did what they do best – respond. With former Wingnuts reliever Al Yevoli on the hill for Sioux Falls, Matt Padgett singled with two outs and scored when Joash Brodin doubled to bring Padgett all the way around to score. That made it 7-4.
The Wichita Wingnuts got another outstanding outing out of their bullpen. Alex Boshers closed out the seventh, and Frankie Reed pitched a perfect eighth. In the ninth manager Kevin Hooper turned to his closer, Dakota Watts, who has been on fire of late. Watts retired the Canaries in order for his seventh save of the season. The right-hander has not been scored upon since joining the Wingnuts, and has a string of 14 straight scoreless appearances.
Mittelstaedt finished 2-4 with a run and 2 RBI. He hit his 13th double of the year and his third triple. Ray drove in a pair, and Kain had two hits and scored two runs. Bergin went 2-3 with a pair of doubles, 2 RBI and a run scored. He extended his hitting streak to six straight.
By Robert Pannier