When a man’s dinner is interrupted, there better be a good reason. Ryan Scoles encountered a great one Thursday afternoon.
Scoles was just sitting down to eat at around 5 p.m. when he got a call that would change his life. Scoles’ presence was being requested at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, where he would make his first professional start for the Wingnuts
Two hours later, Scoles was on the mound for his debut, and less than three hours after that he earned his first win as the Wingnuts defeated Kansas City 1-0, notching their only run in the first inning.
Scoles overcame nerves and a difficult first inning to deliver a performance worthy of the American Association’s best pitching staff, working into the sixth inning and allowing one hit.
The Wingnuts had to scramble to find a starter to replace Ryan Hinson, who was sold to the Atlanta Braves organization Thursday afternoon. On short notice, it’s difficult to imagine the Wingnuts doing better.
“I was actually working out for two hours and trying to eat dinner right before I got a call,” said the 25-year-old Scoles, who played at Andover Central and Hutchinson Community College. “I was trying to gather myself — I didn’t gather myself until about the third inning. I was pretty tense.”
Scoles’ nerves were exhibited by his inability to remember his social security number and by a shaking hand that barely allowed him to sign his name to sign his contract. Once he was on the field, he found it even more difficult to settle.
Kennard Jones started the game with a single, and though Scoles struck out the next batter, it took him a while to work out of his self-induced trouble. He walked a pair to load the bases with two outs before Jairo Perez lined to left on Scoles’ 39th pitch.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a guy throw 39 pitches in one inning and not give up a run,” Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. “Once he got through the first, you could tell he got a little more calmed down, a little more comfortable.”
Even though Scoles pitched more effectively, it seemed unlikely that he would be able to make the Wingnuts’ first-inning run stand up. He waded into more difficulty in the second when the first batter of the second, Luis Rivera, reached on an error.
That was the turning point in Scoles’ outing. He faced the minimum over the next four innings and went into the sixth cruising rather than having his start cut short due to his high early pitch count.
By then, Scoles no longer had the look of a pitcher who had been nearly overwhelmed by anxiety before his start.
“They gave me a physical, and I was like, ‘It’s probably not a good time to take a physical,’” Scoles said. “It’s probably not a good time to take my heart rate. It’s pretty bad.”
Kansas City starter Lucas Irvine was a difficult task on paper that came to fruition.
Irvine is among the league leaders in ERA, and he held down an offense that had been averaging nearly eight runs per game and batting .330 in 31 home games.
Jake Kahaulelio singled with one out in the first and scored on John Rodriguez’s double. Though the Wingnuts organized other potential rallies, including loading the bases in the sixth, none of them turned into runs.
Rodriguez was one of the few to figure out Irvine, getting three of his four hits against him.
“He has a sneaky fastball,” Rodriguez said. “He throws hard, but with his arm action you really can’t see the curve well, the fastball is in and out really well. I just tried to calm myself down and see it as long as possible, and I was able to get four hits.”
Perhaps Scolescan find solace in a 36-year-old former major-leaguer like Rodriguez also needing to calm himself down. Scoles’ ability to do so likely earned him another chance in Wichita’s rotation. And some better dinners.
“I cooked some fish,” Scoles said. “I got halfway through it, then I gave the rest to my dog. I was like, ‘I’ve gotta get outta here.’”
|Jones cf||4||0||1||0||Khoury ss||4||0||2||0|
|Goodwin ss||3||0||0||0||Kahaullio 2b||4||1||1||0|
|Padgett 3b||3||0||0||0||Rodriguez dh||4||0||4||1|
|Nichols 1b||3||0||0||0||Ziegler 1b||4||0||0||0|
|Paramore c||3||0||0||0||Clevlen cf||4||0||1||0|
|Gathright pr||0||0||0||0||Nieves 3b||3||0||1||0|
|Perez dh||3||0||0||0||Armstrong c||3||0||0||0|
|Rivera rf||4||0||0||0||Amberson rf||3||0||0||0|
|Molina 2b||4||0||0||0||McDonald lf||3||0||0||0|
E— Khoury (10), Kahaulelio (2), Ziegler (6). DP— Wichita 1. LOB— Kansas City 8, Wichita 7. 2B— Rodriguez (19). SB — Rivera (1), Khoury (11). CS — Jones (8), Rodriguez (1).
WP — Irvine. Umpires—Home, Ben Sonntag; first, Anthony Sheets; second, Mike O’Leary.
T— 2:36. A— 2,588.