Zack Cox Leads Wichita Wingnuts in Slugfest, 11-9
When Charlie Rosario starts for the Gary Southshore RailCats and they score nine runs, nearly 100 percent of the time people would say that the ‘Cats must have dominated this game. They did have every opportunity to walk away with the victory in this contest, especially after scoring six-runs in the bottom of the sixth, but the Wichita Wingnuts plated five-runs over the last three frames in the 11-9 victory. That gave Wichita their second win in a row in a battle of division leaders.
The Wingnuts plated single runs in each of the first two innings. Zack Cox gave Wichita the lead in the top of the first when he hit his fifth homer of the season just two batters into the game. In the second Martin Medina led off the inning with a double and scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0.
In the bottom of the second, the RailCats tied the score. Alex Crosby doubled to start the inning and scored when Frank Martinez crushed his sixth homer of the year. That made it 2-2.
The Wichita Wingnuts would retake the lead in the top of the third. Rosario retired the first two hitters of the inning but Brent Clevlen kept it alive with a double. T.J. Mittelstaedt followed with a double that scored Clevlen and it was a one-run Wichita lead again.
It would stay that way until the fifth when the Wingnuts would extend their lead to three. Leo Vargas walked to start the inning. A single by Christian Stringer moved Vargas to third and Cox singled Vargas home to make it 4-2. Mittelstaedt plated the second run of the inning with a fielder’s choice.
This looked like the Wichita Wingnuts were going to roll in this contest, but in the bottom of the sixth the Gary Southshore RailCats would mount a huge rally to take the lead. Matt Petrone began the frame by reaching on an error. Next up was Brennan Metzger, who tripled to the wall in right. That brought Petrone in to cut the deficit to two. A ground out by Crosby plated Metzger to make it 5-4. A single to Frank Martinez and a walk to Jamie Del Valle put two on with two outs. Elbert Devarie then walked to load the bases, and Jarred Mederos followed with a huge clutch hit, a grand slam that gave the RailCats their first lead of the game, 8-5.
It was a shocking turnaround to say the least, but no one expects the Wichita Wingnuts to roll over and they did not. In the top of the seventh they got three of those runs back to tie the score. Stringer began it with a single with one out. Cox walked and Mittelstaedt was walked with two outs to load the bases. Medina singled to score Stringer and Matt Chavez drilled a double to left field that plated Cox and Mittelstaedt to tie the game.
In the top of the eighth, the Wingnuts retook the lead. Again, it was the two-out rally that showed that these Wingnuts have no quit in them. The first two batters of the inning were retired, but Stringer walked and then stole second base. Cox followed with a double to bring home Stringer and Clevlen doubled to score Cox. That made it 10-8.
Gary got a run right back in the bottom half of the inning. Martinez walked to start the frame and then stole second base. He scored on a single by Del Valle to make it 10-9.
Looking for some cushion, Matt Chavez delivered it. He hit his fourth homer of the season to extend the lead back to two. This continues the hot streak that Chavez has been on since returning from the disabled list. He is 11-33 with 5-runs and 12-RBI in 8-games since coming off the DL.
In the bottom of the ninth inning Frankie Reed came on looking to close it out. He would walk two batters but was able to close it out for his 10th save of the season.
Cox finished 3-4 with 3-runs and 3-RBI. Chavez was 2-5 with a run and 3-RBI. Martinez went 2-3 with 2-runs and 2-RBI for Gary.
Game 3 of the series between these two teams continues tomorrow night. Tim Brown (5-2, 5.09) goes for the Wichita Wingnuts. The Gary Southshore RailCats will send Richard Castillo (3-2, 3.33) to the hill. First pitch is 6:10.
By Robert Pannier