WICHITA, KS – On the opening night of a big nine-game homestand, the Wichita Wingnuts pitching staff came out with guns blazing against a potent Laredo lineup. In both games of a doubleheader on Tuesday the Lemurs could muster only one run while the Wingnuts received a wealth of production from the bottom of their order. The end result was a 5-1 win in the opener and a solid 6-1 victory in the nightcap.
In game one, the Wingnuts (24-19) broke a scoreless tie in the third inning. Taylor Oldham knocked a leadoff single against Laredo starter Henry Garcia (1-4) to open the frame. He was bunted to second by Jayce Ray and then advanced to third on a single by David Espinosa. In his debut with the team, Starlin Rodriguez grounded a single up the middle to open the scoring. Two batters later, Joash Brodin drove in a run of his own with a base hit and made it 2-0.
Wichita was able to gain some distance on the scoreboard when three straight hitters singled with one out in the fourth to load the bases. Espinosa took advantage by working the count and then ripping a two-RBI single to double the lead at 4-0. With runners remaining on the corners the Wingnuts got creative to plate their fifth run. Espinosa broke towards second and stopped on Luke Bailey’s throw to the base. As soon as the ball left the catcher’s hand, Ray sprinted for home and scored without a throw.
Laredo (23-22) scored their only run of the game in unearned fashion against Tim Brown (4-1). With one out in the top of the fifth, Ty Morrison chopped a ball towards second. Brown ranged back and fielded it on the run, but his flip to first was off target and allowed the runner to move to second. Abel Nieves followed with a single and Denis Phipps added one of his own to drive in his 33rd run of the year and cut the lead to 5-1.
Brown allowed only the unearned run in 5.0 innings as he scattered five hits. He struck out three and walked the same number. Daniel Bennett and Dakota Watts each worked scoreless innings to close the door on the Lemurs.
In the second contest, it was déjà vu as the Nuts grabbed the first lead in the third. Oldham drew a leadoff walk against Scott Garner (5-3) and made it into third when Juan Silverio threw wide of second on a Ray groundball. Espinosa was hit by a pitch and T.J. Mittelstaedt followed by getting a single to drop in front of Morrison in center. After a strikeout, Matt Padgett worked a bases loaded walk for his 24th run batted in and a 2-0 lead. Garner was removed in the midst of Padgett’s at bat after crumpling to the ground in pain following the 2-1 pitch.
A wild fourth inning blew the game open for Wichita. The Wingnuts loaded the bases on two singles and a walk to Mittelstaedt’s benefit once again. This time the third baseman lined a triple into the corner to clear the bases. When Nieves’ throw to third was off target, Mittelstaedt hopped to his feet and completed his trip around the bases to make the lead 6-0.
Jon Link (1-0) was phenomenal in his return to the Wingnuts, tossing 5.0 shutout frames and allowing merely one hit. He struck out three and did not walk a batter. Al Yevoli worked a scoreless sixth inning with two strikeouts before handing the game over to Alex Boshers. The rookie from Tennessee-Martin gave up one run on two singles and a walk to produce the 6-1 final.
Wingnuts pitching combined to allow just one earned run in 14.0 innings while whiffing 11 Lemurs to sweep the twin-bill. Oldham paced all hitters with four combined hits and four runs scored.
Game three of the series is Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. RHP Jason Van Skike (4-1) will work for the Wingnuts against RHP Matt Loosen (2-3) of Laredo. The Wingnuts will be celebrating another Way Back Wednesday with general admission tickets available for just $2. For information on season tickets, group outings, and party packages, call the Wingnuts’ main office at (316) 264-NUTS, or visit the Wingnuts’ official website at www.wichitawingnuts.com.