Five innings after manager Kevin Hooper screamed words few have ever heard from him at home plate umpire Art Thigpen, the Wingnuts returned to the familiar: Winning and clutch hitting by Ryan Khoury.
The Wingnuts regrouped after the dramtic ejections of Hooper and hitting coach Jose Amado and composed a ninth-inning rally that ended when Khoury hit a sacrifice fly that gave them a 6-5 win over Grand Prairie at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
On May 22, Khoury delivered a walkoff single in Wichita’s win over New Jersey. Khoury’s timely hitting has provided the bookends to the Wingnuts’ ongoing nine-game winning streak, which matches a franchise record set in 2009.
The Wingnuts loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth against Griffin Bailey, setting the stage for another game-winning RBI by Khoury. On a 1-1 pitch. Khoury lined to shallow center, forcing Keanon Simon to gather himself after making a running catch.
That gave David Peralta enough time to slide past catcher Zane Chavez, though Peralta’s finger and arm met Chavez’s spike, bloodying Peralta’s arm and limiting the celebration as he was attended to by the training staff.
"You just have to take it as another (at-bat)," Khoury said. "Obviously those are big because we’ve got runners in scoring position, but if you get out of your head you can lose your approach a little bit. I just stuck with my plan and tried to get something in the air."
Peralta started the ninth with a single up the middle. The Wingnuts got a second runner when Chavez attempted to throw out Peralta at second on a sacrifice bunt by Taylor Freeman, and loaded the bases on a wild pitch third strike.
Freeman was involved in both of Wichita’s rallies — he had an RBI double during a five-run second and executed a small-ball play that can be crucial toward building a long winning streak.
"This is professional baseball — you can’t come out here any day and expect to run through someone," Freeman said. "You’re always going to be challenged, you just have to execute the little things in the game to give yourself a chance."
Peralta’s at-bat in the fourth resulted in a rare ejection of Hooper. After taking a strike he believed was inside, Peralta delayed in getting back to the batter’s box. After Thigpen unsuccessfully ordered Peralta to get back in the box, Thigpen allowed Lance Janke to pitch.
Janke’s pitch appeared well out of the strike zone but was called a strike; a rule allows umpires to call an automatic strike if a batter refuses to get in the box in a timely manner.
The strike call set off Amado and Hooper, coaching at first and third. Both were ejected quickly but continued arguing, and Hooper’s out-of-character obscenities could be heard over music and at a significant distance.
The Wingnuts led 5-4 at the time but allowed Grand Prairie to tie it in the fifth on an unearned run. Wichita looked shaky in the aftermath of the ejections but rebounded quickly.
"Sometimes you’ve got to take a breath," Freeman said. "When your manager is fired up and things go on like that, your blood starts to pump a little bit. You have to step back and say ‘Let’s play ball and get the job done.’ ”
After Grand Prairie scored three in the second against Jose Perez, the Wingnuts responded with five runs in the bottom half. Janke settled after that, retiring 13 in a row and striking out 10 before his outing ended with two seventh-inning walks.
Khoury’s hit topped an eventful night that included left fielder Mike Conroy leaving the game with an apparent concussion after a collision with Khoury in the fourth.
"You’re not going to shut out everybody — teams are going to score runs and they’ve got a good lineup," Khoury said. "They put up that three spot and we just said, we’ve been scoring a lot of runs so just stick with our approach. Sure enough, we came back and answered."
|Simon cf||4||0||0||0||Khoury ss||3||0||0||2|
|Hunt 2b||4||1||1||0||Kahaulelio 2b||4||0||1||2|
|Lockwood 1b||4||0||0||0||J.Rodriguez dh||3||0||0||0|
|A.Rodriguez dh||3||1||3||2||Richardson 3b||4||0||0||0|
|Porter rf||4||1||1||0||Einertson cf||4||1||1||0|
|Myrow 3b||4||2||2||2||Ziegler 1b||4||1||1||1|
|Thomas lf||4||0||0||0||Peralta rf||3||2||2||0|
|Chavez c||3||0||0||1||Freeman c||4||1||2||1|
|Nishimoto ss||3||0||0||0||Conroy lf||1||1||0||0|
|Grand Prairie||030||110||000||—||5 7 1|
|Wichita||050||000||001||—||6 7 2|
Two outs when winning run scored.
E—Chavez (2), Richardson (1), Freeman (2). LOB—Grand Prairie 4, Wichita 5. DP—Wichita 1. 2B—Myrow (5), Ziegler (6), Freeman (2). HR — A. Rodriguez (2), Myrow (2). SF— A. Rodriguez (2), Chavez (1), Khoury (3). SB— Peralta (3).
|Bailey L, 0-2||2/3||2||1||1||0||1|
|Martinez W, 1-0||1||0||0||0||0||0|
Umpires — home, Art Thigpen; first, Shawn Hicks; third, Dan Hoffman. T —2:29. A — 3,311.