John Rodriguez had one hit in seven at-bats during the Wingnuts’ doubleheader with St. Paul on Friday, mostly showing the effects of a strained hamstring that has had him at limited capacity for more than a week.
It was good, then, that the hit didn’t force Rodriguez to run.
Rodriguez’s two-run home run sparked a six-run third inning for the Wingnuts in Game 1, leading them to a 7-2 victory at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. The Saints took the second seven-inning game 3-2, getting to Wichita’s bullpen late.
Rodriguez grounded out five times Friday, and since it’s been suggested that he not sprint to first base, it was clear that the injury he suffered on June 5 has been slow to heal.
As the Wingnuts’ veteran presence, the 35-year-old former major-league outfielder can ignite an offense when he connects with a fastball like he did George Jensen’s 2-0 offering.
C.J. Ziegler followed with a solo homer on the next pitch, and the Wingnuts were off and running.
“J-Rod’s our rock in the middle of the lineup, him and Z,” Wichita shortstop Ryan Khoury said. “He’s obviously a little bit banged up, but he’s still stroking it, working on his swing and starting to do what he always does, come through for us.”
The Wingnuts’ big inning looked to be building in the second, when Ziegler and Armstrong started it with singles before Abel Nieves drove in Ziegler with a double and newcomer Mike Mobbs walked to load the based with no outs.
The following three hitters failed to build on the early lead, managing an infield popup and two strikeouts.
The Wingnuts pushed aside those failures an inning later, when eight of the first nine hitters reached base. Jared McDonald matched Rodriguez’s two RBIs with a one-out single, and David Amberson scored the sixth run on a throwing error.
“We could have shut the shop down, dropped our heads down and quit,” Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. “Leaving the bases loaded with nobody out and not scoring is hard to do, and we didn’t get one in. We bounced right, back, though and put up six. A good ballclub is going to do that.”
Wingnuts starter Ryan Hinson allowed a two-run homer to Brandon Tripp in the second but otherwise worked six scoreless innings to notch his first career complete game, albeit abbreviated.
Anthony Capra seemed on his way to matching Hinson after three scoreless innings to start Game 2, but with Capra slated to pitch on three days’ rest in a Tuesday doubleheader, he was removed after three innings and 52 pitches.
The bullpen was charged with protecting the 1-0 lead the Wingnuts took on Khoury’s RBI triple in the third. Daniel Bennett did so, but left-hander Nick Walters and Lincoln Holdzkom combined to allow three runs in the sixth.
Adam Frost followed Tripp’s RBI infield single with a two-out, two-run double. The Wingnuts got a two-out RBI single from Amberson in the seventh, but he was stranded when pinch-hitter Colt Loehrs popped out to end the game.
St. Paul controlled the matchups late, going to left-hander Matt Meyer with two outs to force Loehrs, a .204 right-handed hitter, off the bench to replace Jared McDonald, a lefty batting .326.
“Not the greatest taste,” Hooper said. “That would have been a nice one to win, taking two games against a good ballclub. You’re not going to win a lot of ballgames just scoring one run. I thought our one run was going to hold up for a while.”
Wichita 7, St. Paul 2
|Kaczrwski 2b||4||0||1||0||Khoury ss||3||0||1||0|
|Frost ss||2||0||0||0||Kahaullio 2b||2||1||0||0|
|Becker 3b||2||0||0||0||Rodriguez dh||4||1||1||2|
|Sheldon 1b||3||1||3||0||Ziegler 1b||4||2||2||1|
|Cabrera dh||3||0||0||0||Armstrong c||4||0||1||0|
|Tripp rf||3||1||1||2||Nieves 3b||3||1||2||1|
|Hernandez lf||3||0||0||0||Mobbs lf||2||1||0||0|
|Tripp cf||3||0||1||0||Amberson rf||2||1||1||0|
|Radmacher c||3||0||0||0||McDonald cf||3||0||1||2|
E—Radmacher (2). LOB—St. Paul 6, Wichita 9. 2B— Khoury (5), Nieves (6). HR—Tripp (8), Rodriguez (5), Ziegler (9). SB—McDonald 2 (7). CS—Frost.
|Jensen L,0-3||2 1/3||7||7||6||3||2|
HBP — by Jensen (Kahaulelio). WP —Soule .Umpires—Home, Stegner; first, Linton; second, Hoffman.
St. Paul 3, Wichita 2
|Kaczrwski 1b||1||0||1||0||Khoury ss||3||0||2||1|
|Becker 3b||4||0||0||0||Kahaullio 2b||3||0||1||0|
|Boyer 2b||4||0||0||0||Rodriguez dh||3||0||0||0|
|Sheldon dh||4||0||0||0||Ziegler 1b||3||0||0||0|
|Cabrera lf||3||1||1||0||Nieves 3b||3||1||2||0|
|Tripp, B. rf||2||1||2||0||Mobbs lf||2||0||0||0|
|Tripp, J. cf||3||1||1||1||Dalrymple c||3||0||0||0|
|Frost ss||3||0||1||2||Amberson rf||3||1||2||1|
|Childs c||3||0||1||0||McDonald cf||2||0||0||0|
E—Capra. DP—St. Paul 2, Wichita 1. LOB— St. Paul 7, Wichita 4. 2B— Frost (6), Childs (6), 3B—Khoury (1). SB— Tripp 2 (2), Frost (9).
|Hamburger W1-2||6 2/3||7||2||2||1||5|
Umpires—Home, Linton; first, Hoffman; second, Stegner.
T— 1:58. A— 3,430.