The Wingnuts were beating Gary SouthShore by six runs in the eighth inning Wednesday night, and Wichita starter Ryan Hinson had almost nothing to be upset about.
Still, when he hung an 0-2 breaking ball to Mike Massaro, who lined it into right field for a single, Hinson screamed into his glove.
It wasn’t an uncommon reaction for a pitcher after a mistake, but Hinson’s anger highlighted two of the aspects that have made Hinson one of the best starters in the American Association — confidence and competitiveness.
Hinson pitched eight more dominant innings Wednesday and Wichita’s offense scored enough runs to win in the first inning of an 7-1 win at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
Hinson improved to 5-1 with a 2.27 ERA, turning the Wingnuts’ momentum back in their favor after getting swept by Gary in a day-night doubleheader Tuesday.
“I’m a competitor,” Hinson said. “Anytime you play, you want to play for nine innings. Down 7-1, you give them any kind of mojo and things can turn around quickly. As a pitcher, you don’t like 0-2 hits.
“I always expect more of myself. Now I just know how to work a little bit better, not wear myself down during the week to get to the start, and just believe in the process of one pitch at a time, one inning at a time.”
Hinson’s strong start to 2012 began to fizzle when he allowed five earned runs in three of six appearances in June and July and never regained his early-season consistency. Seven starts in to 2013, Hinson appears to have gone past the point of a possible rough patch.
The only hit Gary managed through the first six innings was a bunt single in the second. The Railcats got three singles in a row with one out in the seventh, but Hinson kept the damage to one run.
Even though Gary has hit four home runs as a team, eight less than Wichita first baseman C.J. Ziegler, who homered twice Wednesday, the Railcats present some problems to opposing pitchers.
They have a patient, almost pest-like approach that wears down hitters, and they have the capability to string multiple hits together to score, like they did in scoring 14 runs during Tuesday’s doubleheader.
“That’s the way their manager (Greg Tagert) teaches them to play,” Hinson said. “We all know, and they know it, that they have a little more of a college (baseball) mentality. If you’re not in the zone and you throw a lot of balls, they’re going to get on base and get hits.
“But if you’re in the zone, they’re going to hit groundballs, they’re going to put it in play. That’s what you want as a pitcher to keep your pitch count down.”
Jake Kahaulelio provided the necessary run support for Hinson, belting a two-run homer in the first. As they have in scoring 54 runs in the last six games, the Wingnuts continued their barrage.
Ryan Khoury doubled home a run in the second before Ziegler’s first homer, a two-run shot, capped a three-run fifth. Ziegler’s homer to lead off the bottom of the seventh made it 7-1.
“That’s how this lineup is,” Ziegler said. “There’s a lot of firepower, and anybody at any time can come up and hit a double, triple, home run. That’s where our strengths are. Today, Hinson, it was 1-2-3 for him and getting us back in to hit and where we were comfortable.”
The two Tuesday losses took a lot out of the Wingnuts physically and mentally, but their energy seemed to return with Kahaulelio’s early homer and via Hinson’s sixth straight start allowing two or fewer runs.
After Jon Link was sold to the Detroit Tigers organization, where he’ll pitch in Double-A, Hinson has perhaps become the next in line for a shot in affiliated ball.
“Pitching sets the tone,” Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said of Hinson’s Wednesday outing. “We’re doing our best to get some (scouts) out here. He deserves another chance, and I think it’s going to happen before long — I hope.”
|Klein lf||3||0||0||0||Khoury ss||4||1||1||1|
|Massaro rf||3||0||1||0||Kahaullio 2b||4||2||2||2|
|Pulfer 1b||4||0||0||0||Rodriguez dh||5||1||1||1|
|Guerrero dh||4||1||1||0||Ziegler 1b||4||2||2||3|
|Maddox c||4||0||1||0||Cleven cf||4||0||2||0|
|Kolb 3b||4||0||2||0||Armstrong c||4||0||0||0|
|Martinez cf||2||0||0||1||Nieves 3b||4||0||1||0|
|Mitchell ss||3||0||0||0||Amberson rf||4||1||1||0|
|Tucker 2b||3||0||0||0||McDonald lf||3||0||2||0|
DP— Wichita 1. LOB— Gary 5, Wichita 8. 2B— Khoury (7), Clevlen (2), McDonald (12). HR – Kahaulelio (7), Ziegler 2 (12). S – Massaro.
|Ronick L, 3-3||5||9||6||6||1||3|
|Hinson W, 5-1||8||5||1||1||2||5|
HBP — Kahaulelio by Ronick (8). WP — Potts (1). PB – Maddox. Umpires—Home, Mitch Morgan; first, Jon Durante; third, Sean Hicks.
T— 2:28. A— 2230.