TJ Mittelstaedt Powers Wichita Wingnuts to 16-7 Victory
Wichita Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper has been tinkering with his lineup looking for more offensive production. The manager seems to have settled in on David Espinosa at the top, TJ Mittelstaedt second, Joash Brodin third, and Matt Padgett in the clean-up spot. That sure looked like the winning combination Sunday afternoon as the four combined to go 9-16 in a 16-7 win over the Amarillo Thunderheads.
It may be the day after the Fourth of July, but the Wingnuts offense had their own fireworks going on this day. Ryan Bonnot started for Amarillo and could not record an out before being pulled. The first five hitters reached against him. Espinosa and Mittelstaedt walked and Brodin doubled to bring home Espinosa. Padgett then walked to load the bases and John Nester singled to score two more to make it 3-0.
Austin Kirk took over for Bonnot and gave up a fielder’s choice to Brent Dean that scored Padgett. Luis Hernandez followed with the double to score Dean and a wild pitch brought home Hernandez. It was 6-0 Wingnuts.
In the second the visitors extended their lead. Espinosa began the inning with a double and scored when Mittelstaedt blasted his seventh home run of the year. Brodin followed with a walk and came around to score on a double by Padgett. That made it 9-0.
Omar Bencomo got the start for the Wichita Wingnuts and, staked to a nine-run lead early, he was on cruise control. He gave up just two-runs through the first five innings, both of which came in the bottom of the second. Rene Leveret’s double scored Juan Martinez and Geraldo Valentin followed with a double that scored Leveret.
In the top half of the third Wichita got a run back. Leo Vargas reached on an error, and moved to third on an Espinosa double. Mittelstaedt drove Vargas home with a sacrifice fly and it was 10-2 Wingnuts.
Neither team was able to put any runs on the board over the next two innings, and by the way that Bencomo was pitching this game looked like it was over, but Amarillo proved that they will fight until the end.
In the bottom of the sixth the Thunderheads got right back into the game, plating four runs. Jason Martin doubled and came home to score on a wild pitch. Stefan Gartrell also scored on a wild pitch. Jordan Guida drove home two runs in the inning with a single, and that ended Bencomo’s night.
Bencomo (4-0) kept his record undefeated going 5.2 innings, allowing 9 hits, 3 walks and 6 earned runs. Frankie Reed closed out the inning and pitched a perfect seventh to keep Amarillo with just six runs.
Clinging to a four-run lead the Wichita Wingnut plated four runs in the top of the eighth inning, and it was that foursome that got the rally rolling. Vargas reached on another error with one out, and Espinosa was hit by a pitch to make it first and second with one away. Mittelstaedt lined a single that scored Vargas and Brodin followed with a double that brought home Espinosa. Padgett singled to bring in Mittelstaedt and Dean brought home Padgett with a sacrifice fly.
It was like a carnival ride for these four, as each one seemed to get on and move the previous batter along in the diamond carousel. It was an impressive array of hitting.
In the bottom of the eighth Amarillo got one of those runs back. Martinez singled to begin the inning against Brad Mincey and scored on a double by Gartrell. Mincey then got the final three outs to end the inning, making it 14-7.
In the top of that ninth that group was at it again. Vargas doubled with one out. Two batters later Mittelstaedt came to the plate and ripped his second home run of the game and eighth of the year to make it 16-7. That would be the final score.
Mittelstaedt was the chief catalyst on the afternoon. He finished 3-4 with 4 runs scored and 6 RBI. He hit two home runs and also drew a walk. Espinosa was 2-3 with 3 runs scored and 2 walks. Brodin was 2-5 with 3 runs, 3 RBI. Both Espinosa and Brodin doubled twice. Padgett was 2-4 with a run and 2 RBI. He also had a double.
By Robert Pannier