Wichita Wingnuts Lesson 6: Kick ‘em When They’re Down
In all honesty, the Wichita Wingnuts have some of the nicest guys you will ever meet. However, when they put on that uniform it’s “Go” time, and like a soldier going into battle, they enter the field of play looking to win, which means if they have to extend the sorrows of their opponent, they are more than happy to do so.
Wingnuts University was on display Friday night as the club downed the Lincoln Saltdogs for their opponent’s ninth straight loss. Lincoln got an outstanding start out of Zach Varce, but Jason Van Skike was just a bit better, outdueling the Saltdogs starter in the 4-2 Wichita win.
In the top of the first inning the Lincoln starter had given up two singles with one out, but got newly acquired Matt Padgett to hit into a double play to end the inning. In the top of the second John Nester staked the Wingnuts to the 1-0 lead. Nester opened the second and on a 2-1 pitch he drilled it for his first home run of the season, giving Wichita the 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the second the Saltdogs tied it up. With two outs Mitch Canham singled and moved to second on a base hit by Jeremy Hamilton. Mike Gilmartin beat out a grounder to load the bases and Eddie Young singled to tie the score.
In the bottom of the fourth Lincoln took the lead against Van Skike. Gilmartin singled with one out, but was cut down on a fielder’s choice by Eddie Young. Young moved to second on an error by the Wichita pitcher and scored on a base hit by Matt Forgatch that gave the Saltdogs the lead, 2-1.
In the top of the sixth the Wichita Wingnuts would tie the score. Alberto Gonzalez doubled with two outs. Varce had the runner picked off as he raced for third, but his throw was wild, which allowed Gonzalez to come all the way around to score and knot the game at two.
In the top of the seventh the Wichita Wingnuts jumped back on top. Padgett delivered his first single in a Wichita uniform and moved to second on a single by TJ Mittelstaedt two batters later. Brent Dean reached on an error to load the bases and Dustin Geiger hit a sacrifice fly scoring Padgett and giving the Wingnuts the 3-2 lead.
In the top of the eighth inning the visitors would add an additional run. Wichita loaded the bases with one out. The Saltdogs moved their infield in trying to stop another run from scoring, but David Espinosa found a seam, plating Jayce Ray, moving the score to 4-2.
Daniel Carela continued his outstanding setup work, retiring Lincoln in order in eighth, and Matt Nevarez came on in the ninth to close it out for Wichita. He allowed two walks, but struck out two as well to record his fifth save of the season. Nevarez has yet to be scored upon this season.
Van Skike (2-0) was the winner, pitching 7 innings, allowing 8 hits, no walks, and 1 earned run. He also struck out 2. Varce (0-2) took the tough luck loss despite having his best outing of the season. He pitched 6.1, allowing 7 hits and 1 earned run, while striking out 6.
Espinosa extended his hitting streak to five games with a 2-4 night. He is 8 for his last 19, with 4 runs and 3 RBI for the club.
By Robert Pannier