Trailing by three runs with the bases loaded in the bottom of the third, the Wingnuts were a swing away from tying Sioux City on Wednesday night.
David Peralta made the swing — it just came with a little extra running.
Peralta’s triple cleared the bases, and he raced home after the ball got away from Explorers catcher Tyler Goodro. Peralta’s effort knotted the score and sparked Wichita to an 11-7 win at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
Wichita has been boosted by hustle plays on the bases frequently in winning 12 of its last 13 games. Peralta grasped the magnitude of his run on Wednesday, throwing down his helmet in celebration after sliding home.
"I always play hard, so I was running hard," Peralta said. "When I got to third base, I saw the ball running away, so I’m going to get a run."
The Wingnuts fell behind 6-1 after the top of the third with a combination of shaky pitching and ineffective defense.
Starting pitcher Jose Perez failed to fool Sioux City’s hitter with a two-pitch arsenal. Perez struggled to get ahead in the count against a free-swinging lineup, and when he was forced to throw pitches in the strike zone the Explorers were ready.
Sioux City collected six hits in a four-run second that included an error on catcher Taylor Freeman. Yusuke Inoguchi attempted to score from second on an infield hit, and shortstop Ryan Khoury’s throw home arrived well before Inoguchi.
But Freeman was unable to handle the throw and Inoguchi scored the first of Sioux City’s two unearned runs in the inning. Perez managed to pitch into the sixth, settling down after allowing a two-out homer in the third. He didn’t surrender another hit until the final batter he faced.
"He’s got good stuff — the slider is real good," Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said of Perez. "But he’s got to command the fastball for that to be effective.... He’s putting himself into hitters counts _ 2-0, 3-1, 2-1 — he’s behind everybody. We’ve got to throw strike one."
An early deficit didn’t shake the Wingnuts, nor did the prospect of facing 6-foot-10 rookie pitcher Max Whieldon. The Sioux City right-hander hardly makes the most of his size, with a fastball topping out in the mid 80s.
Wichita needed a turn through the order to acclamate itself to Whieldon, eventually gaining a patient approach that led to five walks. The five-run third was centered around swinging, particularly that of Peralta.
He hit a liner into the gap after C.J. Ziegler walked to load the bases, and the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Ziegler pulled home just before Peralta began his charge to the plate.
"I always give him a hard time, saying ’You’ve got to stop doing that when I’m on first base. You can’t be legging them out all the time like that,’ " Ziegler said. "That was really good for David, and it’s exciting to see. It’s fun to watch those guys run."
As worn out as Ziegler was on his 270-foot run home, it was probably nothing compared to the plight of Sioux City’s pitchers. The Explorers threw 140 pitches in eight innings and Wichita turned their fatigue into insurance runs.
The Wingnuts took the lead for good with a run in the fourth and added four in the seventh. Mitch Einertson’s two-run single was followed by Ziegler’s long two-run home run, giving Wichita double-digit runs for the fourth time this season.
Hooper was able to play matchups with the bullpen, and four Wichita relievers combined 3 1/3 strong innings with four strikeouts and no walks.
"We got down quick tonight and it was close to being ugly," Hooper said. "But Perez settled down and we got that big inning to tie it up. Once that happened, you could feel it that guys were like, ’Here it is. Let’s roll.’”
|Newton cf||5||1||2||2||Khoury ss||4||1||0||0|
|Inoguchi lf||5||1||3||0||Kahaulelio 2b||4||1||3||0|
|Backman 3b||5||1||1||0||Rodriguez dh||5||2||1||0|
|Sanchez 1b||3||0||1||1||Richardson 3b||4||2||2||2|
|Serrano dh||5||0||1||1||Einertson cf||4||1||1||2|
|Goodro c||4||0||0||0||Ziegler 1b||3||2||2||2|
|Priddy ss||4||1||1||0||Peralta rf||3||2||1||3|
|Lang rf||4||2||2||0||Freeman c||4||0||1||0|
|Bistagne 2b||4||1||1||1||Conroy lf||4||0||1||1|
|Sioux City||141||000||010||—||7 12 2|
|Wichita||015||100||400||—||11 12 1|
E—Priddy (8), Bistagne (3), Freeman (4). LOB—Sioux City 7, Wichita 5. DP—Sioux City 1. 2B— Newton (4), Inoguchi (3), Lang (3), Kahaulelio (6), Richardson (2), Einertson (5), Conroy (5). 3b—Peralta (1). HR—Bistagne (2), Ziegler (3). SB—Khoury (5), Kahaulelio (5), Richardson (1), Peralta (5). CS—Kahaulelio (1).
|Marotz L, 0-1||3||5||4||4||0||2|
|Perez W, 2-0||5 2/3||10||6||4||2||3|
WP—Marotz (1), Perez (1), Roth (1).
Umpires — home, Trent Delmont; 1st, Josh Nolen; third, Dan Hoffman. T —2:54. A —3,335.