After a weekend of getting battered by Wingnuts hitters, St. Paul finally threw in the towel Sunday.
Infielder Donald Blunt pitched the bottom of the eighth inning of Wichita’s 18-6 win at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, and the Wingnuts were about as welcoming to him as they were to the other pitchers who tried to hold down the league’s best offense.
The Wingnuts scored 38 runs during the four-game, three-day series and had an inning of at least six runs every day. Their six-run seventh didn’t stand out as much because Wichita scored in six other innings, notching a season-high in runs and with 22 hits.
It was difficult for any individual to stand out, too. Ten players, including late-inning defensive replacement Scott Dalrymple, had a hit. Eight had an RBI and eight raised their batting averages.
Abel Nieves and David Amberson, who extended his hitting streak to 16 games, each had four hits.
The concept of saving runs for tomorrow is lost on the Wingnuts, who have been dynamic for the last three tomorrows.
“There’s no saving,” said Wingnuts designated hitter John Rodriguez, who had two hits, scored three runs and drove in one. “You have to keep going until you can’t because you never know when you’re going to hit a hard time. There’s no saving hits. Get as much as you can, because you never know what happens the next day.”
Wichita has been scoring runs when it has to, but carrying that sense of urgency to every other inning. After the Wingnuts scored four early runs on Saturday, St. Paul tied it in the the middle innings before Wichita broke it open with a seven-run sixth.
Sunday, the Wingnuts matched St. Paul’s two runs in the first, scored two more in the second, then regained the lead for good with two runs in the fourth, making it 7-6.
The Wingnuts didn’t need to score more after that, but their rhythm was unbreakable. They had three hits in the fifth, seven in the seven and five in the eighth. St. Paul threw 201 pitches in eight innings.
“We talked about that a lot, sense of urgency,” Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. “Just continue to do what we do. That’s good to see. To win a series in a four-game set is tough to do, especially against a good ballclub.”
Hooper became frustrated when starting pitcher Junior Guerra was unable to protect leads the offense built for him, but that seemed to have an opposite effect on the hitters.
Every time Guerra allowed runs, Wingnuts batters gained energy, even after long defensive innings in the heat. St. Paul scored in four innings, and the Wingnuts answered with runs in all four.
“There’s something about it,” Amberson said. “A close game, you live for those moments as a professional athlete. Close games, you just get into another zone.”
Rodriguez and Amberson said the Wingnuts’ scoring surge has come from “feeding off each other,” and that seems accurate. Each player is fulfilling his role and the result is a game in which Wichita collected five infield hits and five extra-base hits.
The support even allowed Guerra to settle after a shaky start. He allowed nine hits in the first four innings, but all he allowed after a two-RBI hit in the fourth was a two-out single in the fifth.
Guerra threw 85 pitches in the first four innings but got through six because he made 16 total pitches in his final two innings.
“We’ve got to start seeing it more often,” Hooper said. “His first two starts were lights outs, then his last four have been (just) OK. His last two innings were tremendous. We’ve got to get that from the beginning, and hopefully he’ll be able to feed off that going into his next start.”
|Frost ss||3||2||0||1||Khoury ss||3||4||1||2|
|Becker 3b||5||0||1||2||Kahllelio 2b||5||2||1||2|
|Boyer 2b||4||1||2||2||Rodrgz dh||3||3||2||1|
|Brazell dh||4||0||1||0||Loehrs dh||2||1||2||0|
|Sheldon 1b||4||0||1||0||Ziegler 1b||4||1||2||4|
|Tripp rf||3||0||0||0||Armstrng c||4||0||1||0|
|Cabrera lf||4||1||3||0||Dlrympl c||2||1||1||2|
|Hernndz cf||4||1||1||1||Nieves 3b||6||1||4||1|
|Rdmcher c||3||1||1||0||Mobbs lf||5||3||3||0|
E— Frost (6), Tripp (1). DP— St. Paul 1, Wichita 3. LOB— St. Paul 5, Wichita 12. 2B— Boyer (9), Radmacher (1), Ziegler (11), Mobbs (1), Amberson (5). 3B — Amberson (1). HR — Boyer (4), Kahaulelio (6). SB — Fronst (10). S — Amberson.
WP — Anderson 3, Guerra. PB — Armstrong. Umpires—Home, Joey Stegner; first, Steve Linton; third, Dan Hoffman.
T— 3:21. A— 5,328.