Wichita Wingnuts Hang On to Down Airhogs, 9-8
It has been a roller coaster period for the Wichita Wingnuts, especially in their bullpen. After allowing three walk-off victories to opposing teams to start the week, the bullpen found themselves staked to leads on three different occasions before finally being able to close the door on the Texas AirHogs in the 9-8 victory. Matt Chavez drove in three runs for Wichita, and Christian stringer scored three in the victory.
The Wingnuts jumped out to a four-run lead in the top of the first inning, when the first three Wichita hitters reached base. Harrison Kain got it started with a single into right field before Christian Stringer walked. Brent Clevlen then followed with a single scoring Kain. T.J. Mittelstaedt was the next hitter, and he hit a ball into left field that was misplayed for an error, allowing Stringer to score to extend the lead to two. A single by Matt Chavez drove Clevlen across the plate, and Mittelstaedt came home when Brennen Salgado grounded into a double play. That made the score 4-0.
After being held scoreless in the first, Texas tied the score in the bottom of the second. Ryan Wagner singled to get the frame started and moved to third when Beamer Weems delivered a hit two batters later. A single up the middle by Cameron Monger brought Wagner across the plate and Trevor Sealey followed with a single that loaded the bases. A fielder’s choice by Alvaro Rondon drove Weems home, and both Rondon and Monger scored on a single by Ryne Willard to tie the score.
It was an amazing comeback by the AirHogs and the score would stay tied through the fourth. However, in the top of the fifth Wichita would retake the lead. A base hit by Stringer was followed by a walk to Clevlen, bringing Mittelstaedt to the plate. He grounded into a fielder’s choice, which put runners at the corners, and both came home when Chavez ripped a ball to the wall in right field that he legged into a triple, giving the Wingnuts a three-run lead.
Texas responded right away in the bottom half of the inning. Harvey was able to retire the first two hitters of the inning, but Levi Scott kept the frame alive by beating out a ground ball for a hit. Denis Phipps then delivered a double to put two runners in scoring position and Wagner followed with a double to cut the lead to one.
In the bottom of the seventh, Texas tied the score again. Back-to-back walks to Rondon and Willard started the inning, and Rondon came home on a base hit by Scott. That tied the score at seven.
In the ninth, Wichita would take the lead for the third time in this contest. It was the top of the order that got this frame going when Kain and Stringer led off with back-to-back singles before Clevlen was intentionally walked. With the bases loaded and no one out, Mittelstaedt singled into the gap to score both Kain and Stringer and the Wingnuts had a 9-7 lead.
Heading into the bottom half of the inning, the question was whether Texas had one more comeback in them. They sure looked like they did when Rondon let off with a single and moved to second when Scott walked to batters later. A double by Phipps sent Rondon across the plate, and there were two runners in scoring position with just one out. An intentional walk to Wagner loaded the bases and it looked like Wichita would give up their fourth walk-off loss of the week, however, Seth Harvey got two ground ball outs to end the game and give the Wichita Wingnuts the 9-8 victory.
The top five hitters in the Wichita lineup had a huge day at the plate. Harrison Kain was 2-5 with 2-runs scored. Christian Stringer was 2-4 with 3-runs scored and Matt Chavez finished 2-5 with a run and 3-RBI. T.J. Mittelstaedt drove in 2 and scored 2, and Brent Clevlen had 2-hits and drew 2-walks. Cameron Monger had 3-hits for Texas and Anthony Rondon scored 3-runs.
These two teams will continue their three-game series tomorrow. Ryan Kussmaul (1-2, 4.01) will start for Wichita against James Russell (1-1, 2.52).
By Robert Pannier