Ryan Hinson went to the mound Saturday night at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium with the simple goal of topping teammate Chris Smith’s pitching performance a night earlier in a victory at Grand Prairie.
The Wingnuts left-hander might have come away with much more.
In a battle of American Association division leaders, Hinson pitched a six-hitter and became the franchise’s winningest pitcher as the Wingnuts opened a six-game homestand with a 7-0 victory over the Amarillo Sox.
Hinson, who joined the Wingnuts in 2011, won his 27th game to separate from Derek Blacksher, who won 26 games in Wichita during the 2009, ’11 and ’12 seasons. On Saturday, Hinson recorded the first shutout of the season against the league’s top hitting team in front of a crowd of 3,258 that included a scout from the Texas Rangers organization.
“Any time you do something, you want to be the best at it,” said Hinson, a 26-year-old who was originally drafted in the 10th round out of Clemson by the San Diego Padres in 2009. “It means a lot to me because I’ve been here three years and they’ve treated me like family.”
Hinson retired 14 consecutive batters at one point and improved to 7-2 while lowering his American Association-leading ERA to 1.53.
“I’m hoping that’s the last time I see him in this uniform, to be honest,” Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. “Pitching sets the tone and he did a tremendous job again tonight.”
Hooper and the Wingnuts have been through this already this season, with the Detroit Tigers purchasing right-hander Jon Link’s contract June 19 after he posted six victories and a 1.74 ERA. Hinson looked the part on Saturday, cooling off a team that had won 25 of 33 games since the Wingnuts swept Amarillo in its first visit to Wichita in late May.
“He’s been nails all year,” said Wingnuts second baseman Jake Kahaulelio, who provided offensive support with two hits and three RBIs. “We know when he’s on the mound, we’re going to get to make plays and we’re going to get solid pitching from him.”
The Wingnuts continued to emerge from a brief offensive slump that led to three consecutive losses at Grand Prairie. Wichita roughed up former major-league pitcher Jason Johnson for the second time this season, pounding out 12 of its 15 hits against Johnson in the first four innings, when it scored all of its runs.
In the bottom of the first, Kahaulelio tagged a 3-1 fastball from Johnson over the left-field wall for his 10th home run to give the Wingnuts a 1-0 lead. John Rodriguez followed with a double off the left-field wall, and Brent Clevlen drove him home with the first of his three singles.
The Wingnuts added a run in the second on consecutive singles by Jared McDonald and Ryan Khoury. Then they sent Johnson to an early exit with four runs on six hits in the fourth. Kahaulelio lined a single to center to drive in two, and Rodriguez and C.J. Ziegler, who had been in a 3-for-24 slump, added RBI hits.
“We fed off each other,” Kahaulelio said. “Once you see one guy doing it, everybody else wants to step up.”
Hinson appreciated the support, but didn’t need much. After Amarillo’s Joe Weik sliced a double with two outs in the third, Hinson didn’t allow another hit until Adam De La Garza chopped a single through the middle with one out in the eighth.
Hooper sent Hinson out for the top of the ninth, and after allowing a single to Chris Grossman, he capped the 111-pitch outing by retiring Austin Gallagher and Trey Ford on fly balls.
“Getting the (complete game) and the shutout to get that record is a great way to do it,” Hinson said. “I didn’t strike out as many as Chris did (on Friday).
“We compete that way as a staff, and those wins come because we work together as a team.”
|Martin cf||4||0||0||0||Khoury ss||4||0||1||1|
|Valencia rf||4||0||0||0||Kahaullio 2b||5||2||2||3|
|Weik dh||4||0||2||0||Rodriguez dh||4||2||2||1|
|Grossman c||4||0||2||0||Ziegler 1b||5||0||2||1|
|Gallagher 1b||4||0||0||0||Clevlen cf||4||0||3||1|
|Ford 2b||4||0||0||0||Nieves 3b||2||0||0||0|
|Jones 3b||3||0||0||0||Armstrong c||4||0||1||0|
|Serna ss||3||0||1||0||Loehrs rf||4||1||2||0|
|De La Grz lf||3||0||1||0||McDonald lf||4||2||2||0|
E—Grossman (5), Gallagher (1), Jones (14). DP—Amarillo 3. LOB— Amarillo 6, Wichita 9. 2B— Weik (22), Rodriguez (17), Clevlen (4). HR — Kahaulelio (10). SB — Khoury (10, Kahaulelio (5), McDonald (11). CS — Khoury (3).
HBP —by Johnson (Nieves). WP — Johnson. Umpires—Home, Dan Hoffman; first, Pat McLaughlin; second, Darius Ghani.
T— 2:25. A— 3,258.