As soon as the Wingnuts record the final out of a victory at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, the public address system blasts a song whose opening words are, "All I do is win, win, win no matter what."
Contrary to recent evidence, the song wasn’t written with pitcher Josh Lowey in mind.
Lowey won his 19th consecutive decision, spanning two years and two leagues, helping the Wingnuts snap a mini-skid in their 8-5 win over Winnipeg on Sunday afternoon. The Goldeyes won the first two games of the series.
The Wichita right-hander improved to 8-0 this season, overcoming a shaky start and giving the Wingnuts momentum by pitching out of a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the top of the third.
"I didn’t know about (the streak) until about two or three wins ago and I found out I was in the upper teens," Lowey said. "I just try to go out there every time and give my team a chance to win — compete, throw strikes and minimize mistakes."
With a thin lineup created by the departures of three top hitters to the Mexican League, the Wingnuts seemed on their way to being swept in a three-game series at home for the first time ever after Winnipeg scored four runs in the first two innings.
The Goldeyes were primed to add to their 4-1 lead in the third, when two singles a walk allowed them to load the bases with no outs. Josh Mazzola was the first to fail in a clutch spot, fouling out to first on a 2-1 pitch.
Kyle Day’s shallow fly ball to left didn’t produce a run, either, and Lowey escaped the threat with a strikeout of Ridge Carpenter. The bad fortune the Wingnuts have endured with roster turnover and three players on the disabled list may have reversed on Lowey’s ability to pitch out of trouble.
That inning also turned around Lowey’s start — he allowed a three-run homer in the first and two more extra-base hits in the second.
"One swing of the bat got them three there right away and we’re down 3-0 and just wondering," Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. "We kept it loose in the dugout all day long and had fun today. Just trying to get back on track, and (Lowey) came in and stopped it for us. I know what I’m going to get out of him."
With the losses of power hitters C.J. Ziegler and Juan Richardson, and .381 batter Jake Kahaulelio, the Wingnuts must accentuate their willingness and ability to win by scoring in a less flashy manner.
Wichita’s four-run third started with a nine-pitch walk to Sean Smith and included a bunt single by Jared McDonald and aggressive baserunning by David Peralta. He hustled to stretch a single and forced a throwing error that allowed a second run to score.
The Wingnuts also were helped by an apparent lack of effort by Winnipeg first baseman Garbiel Martinez, who neglected to move as a John Rodriguez groundball bounced by him for a double down the line.
"We’ve got a different team here, that’s no question," Hooper said. "Those are big bats and we don’t have that anymore. We have to do the little things right. We take so much pride in that anyway, playing good defense, running the bases right."
Taylor Freeman personified the Wingnuts’ philosophy in his final at-bat, after two strikeouts and a groundout previously. Freeman fell behind in the count 1-2 before slapping a single to left that drove in two insurance runs.
The Wingnuts didn’t have such difference-making at-bats in the first two games of the series. It seems fitting that they came in support of Lowey, who seems to win no matter what.
"I hope he never does lose," Hooper said. "I was confident going into today. With everything that happened ... it’s just unfortunate, the situation all-around. To get back on track with (Lowey), I was pretty confident today."
|Kendall 2b||4||1||0||0||Khoury ss||5||0||0||0|
|Roberson cf||4||0||1||0||Smith cf||4||2||1||0|
|Weber lf||5||0||1||0||Rodriguez dh||4||1||2||0|
|Allen dh||4||1||2||0||Peralta rf||4||2||2||2|
|Martinez 1b||4||2||2||4||McDonald 3b||4||2||2||0|
|Mazzola 3b||4||0||0||0||Carrillo 1b||4||0||1||1|
|Day c||4||1||1||0||Freeman c||4||0||1||2|
|Carpenter rf||4||0||1||0||Fitzgerald 2b||3||1||1||0|
|Nardowski ss||4||0||2||1||Conroy lf||3||0||2||1|
E— Mazzola (5). LOB— Winnipeg 9, Wichita 6. 2B— Nardowski (5), Smith (1), Rodriguez (9), Conroy (8). 3B — Day (1). HR — Martinez 2 (3). SB — Conroy (10).
|Privett L,1-3||2 1/3||7||6||6||3||3|
HBP — by Lowey (Kendall). WP — Downing 2, Jones, Kahn. Umpires — home, Nick Gonzalez; first, Mike Riggers; third, Joe Stegner. T —2:55. A — 2,232.