The rest of the Wingnuts’ Wednesday night wasn’t quite as unconventional as hitting consecutive home runs separated by half an hour in games that started on different days.
Those homers, first by Jake Kahaulelio then by Ryan Khoury, eliminated the need for creativity.
Kahaulelio ended the conclusion of Tuesday’s suspended game with a walkoff grand slam, giving the Wingnuts an 8-4 win over Amarillo. The game was stopped Tuesday because of severe weather with the teams tied after six innings.
The Wingnuts’ half of the first inning in the regularly-scheduled game was started by a homer from Khoury, his first of the season at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. It, along with seven scoreless innings from Junior Guerra, propelled Wichita to a 4-1 win.
“We just noticed that’s the first time we’ll go back-to-back,” Kahaulelio joked about homering within minutes of Khoury, who bats one spot ahead of him. “It sparks us. Getting that first one is the tough one, and him being that good leadoff and getting us on the board is huge.”
After a 13-game winning streak, the Wingnuts lost three of four games and struggled at times offensively. Kahaulelio’s grand slam seemed to reverse those fortunes, even though the Wingnuts didn’t rediscover their high-scoring customs afterward.
The slam did help Wichita’s performance in the clutch, however. The Wingnuts got their leadoff runners on base in the seventh and eighth innings of the resumed game, but both were erased on the bases.
In the ninth, the bounces went Wichita’s way because of some effective small ball. Madison Beaird started with a bunt single, and everyone was safe when Amarillo attempted to nab Beaird at second on Jared McDonald’s sacrifice.
A third bunt — and second that went for a hit — by Khoury loaded the bases, and Kahaulelio looked at ball one before launching a long homer of Kristhiam Linares just inside the left-field foul line.
“Couple great bunts that we laid down, tremendous,” Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. “Madison getting it going with his bunt starts things, then everything kind of fell after that. Made them play defense — put some pressure on them, they’ll make mistakes, and they did.”
Game two didn’t offer the Wingnuts an abundance of prime scoring chances, but they cashed in on one of the few with a two-out third-inning rally.
Brent Clevlen doubled to the gap on a ball that probably would have scored John Rodriguez from first. But the ball bounced over the wall, putting runners at second and third and necessitating another hit to help Wichita score.
Nieves provided that hit, a groundball single just to the right of the second base, allowing Rodriguez and Clevlen to trot home.
In the ninth, Wichita drew four straight two-out walks to force in the fourth run, and Amarillo also scored in the ninth.
“I liked what I saw tonight,” Hooper said of Guerra. “Even later in the game, spotting those fastballs inside. Not trying to throw 100 (mph), just 92-93, putting it where he wants. He’ll be unhittable if he can do that. Best fastball in the league, probably, and he used it again tonight.”
It wasn’t easy, but Guerra protected the Wingnuts’ relatively slim lead.
Guerra often battles control issues in his less effective starts, and he was nearly undone by walks again on Wednesday. After a leadoff single by Chris Grossman in the fourth, Guerra walked the next two batters to load the bases with no outs.
Then the effective and efficient Guerra arrived, inducing infield pop-ups by the next two batters before striking out Chris Valencia. In the fifth, the first two Sox singled, but Guerra eventually escaped with a double-play grounder.
“Got out of some jams,” Hooper said. “(Guerra and catcher Cole Armstrong) have been working really good together, I’ve felt. They were kind of not on the same page early on, but they’ve kind of gotten the hang of each other and gotten back in line.”
The Wingnuts depart Thursday for a 16-game, 17-day road trip while the National Baseball Congress World Series occupies Lawrence-Dumont.
Two straight wins over Amarillo gives the Wingnuts momentum for the long trip while maintaining their lead in the American Association Central at five games.
“The streak was great,” Wingnuts outfielder Jared McDonald said. “But you’ve got to start all over. Every day is a new day.”
|MArtin cf||4||0||0||0||Khoury ss||3||1||1||2|
|Serna ss||4||0||1||1||Kahaullio 2b||5||2||2||4|
|Delgado 1b||3||1||0||0||Rodrguez dh||4||1||2||1|
|Weik lf||4||1||2||3||Ziegler 1b||3||0||0||0|
|Grossman c||4||0||0||0||Clevlen cf||3||0||0||0|
|Patton dh||3||0||0||0||Nieves 3b||4||1||1||1|
|Jones 3b||4||0||1||0||Armstrong c||4||0||0||0|
|Ford 2b||3||0||0||0||Beaird rf||4||2||3||0|
|Valencia rf||3||2||2||0||McDonald lf||4||1||1||0|
E— Delgado (1), Jones (21), Kahaulelio (3). DP— Amarillo 1. LOB— Amarillo 4, Wichita 6. 2B— JOnes (14), Valencia (15). 3B — Nieves (1). HR — Weik (4), Kahaulelio (12).SB — Khoury (14), Kahaulelio (9), Beaird (1), McDonald (17). CS — Ford, Khoury.
HBP — by Klipp (Delgado, Patton). WP — Lyman. Umpires—Home, Ben Sonntag, first, Brian Urton; third, Mike O’Leary.
|Martin cf||5||0||1||0||Khoury ss||4||2||1||1|
|Valencia rf||4||0||0||0||Kahaullio 2b||4||0||1||0|
|Weik lf||5||0||1||0||Ziegler 1b||4||0||1||1|
|Patton dh||5||0||0||0||Clevlen cf||5||1||2||0|
|Grossman c||3||0||2||0||Nieves 3b||2||0||1||2|
|Jones 2b||3||0||0||0||Armstrong c||4||0||1||0|
|Ford 3b||3||0||0||0||Beaird rf||3||0||0||0|
|Serna ss||4||1||1||0||McDonald lf||4||0||1||0|
E— Ziegler (9). DP— Wichita 1. LOB— Amarillo 13, Wichita 13. 2B—Clevlen (10). HR — Khoury (2). SB — Valencia (9), Delgao (1), Khoury (15).
|Wilson L,0-1||6 2/3||8||3||3||4||3|
WP — Guerra 2, L.Holdzkom. Umpires—Home, Brian Urton; first, Mike O’Leary; third, Ben Sonntag.
T— 2:56. A— 2,516.