Grand Prairie might as well have not even been in the American Association playoffs, because they made literally no impact. And the Wingnuts are probably good enough to have skipped the first round altogether.
The reality unfolded exactly that way, as the Wingnuts beat Grand Prairie 13-0 Friday night at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium to sweep the best-of-five series 3-0 and move onto the championship series next week.
Grand Prairie failed to score during the series 30 innings. The Air Hogs had their best chance in the 11th inning of Game 1, when a runner was thrown out after trying to stretch a leadoff double into a triple.
That play changed that game, which the Wingnuts won 2-0 in 12 innings, and the series. Grand Prairie never recovered, and the Wichita steamrolled the Air Hogs with 19 runs over the last two nights. Wichita begins the best-of-five championship series Tuesday at either Gary SouthShore or Fargo-Moorhead.
It doesnt matter who, Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. Who youre playing, field-wise, the ball doesnt carry (in Grand Prairie), whatever. Shutting somebody out three days in a row is pretty impressive. I think that just goes to show what our (pitching) staff has been all year long.
Friday, the Wingnuts offense was relentless, collecting 19 hits and often extending innings that seemed to be ending quietly. The best example of that was the seventh, when a Cole Armstrong hit brought in a Wichita run via the second out of the inning.
But David Amberson followed with a single before Jared McDonald drove in two with a triple and Ryan Khoury plated the fourth run of the seventh with a double to right-center field.
If we do it in the championship series, it does get better, Khoury said. We want to keep putting pressure on the other team and do what we did tonight and (Thursday) night. Our pitching was unreal the whole series, and in the last two games the hitters stepped up and it worked out real well for us.
Anthony Capra extended Wichitas postseason run of dominant starting pitching with perhaps his best performance this year. Capra went a season-high 7 1/3 innings, walking one with nine strikeouts and three hits allowed.
Capra was removed after recording the first out of the eighth to receive an ovation for matching the scoreless outings of Junior Guerra and Chris Smith and for sending the Wingnuts to their second straight championship series.
It felt great, Capra said. Anytime the fans give you an ovation like that, its a good feeling and a good way to end your night. I kind of figured Hoop would do that. I didnt know if Id get the whole inning or not, but it was a great feeling to end the night.
In Capras last two starts, the former Wichita State left-hander has struck out 19 batters in 13 1/3 innings. More importantly Capra, after 11 straight appearances in which he walked multiple batters, issued one walk in each of those outings.
Since the start of August, Capra owns a 2.74 ERA. He has had a string of best starts and one more could help the Wingnuts capture their first championship in their sixth season.
I sure hope so, Capra said. Its funny, this is kind of the best Ive felt all year, but going into the week was like the worst Ive felt all year. I feel real good, and hopefully Ive got one more good one in me.
Capra had to share top billing Friday with virtually the entire offense. The Wingnuts scored in six of eight innings, including three multiple-run innings, and left a runner on third in the other two.
Wichitas 10 extra base hits constituted five doubles, four triples and a Khoury solo home run in the sixth. Brent Clevlen, John Rodriguez, Jared McDonald and David Amberson tripled, and Khoury supplemented his homer with a pair of RBI double.
The Wingnuts scored seven runs with two outs and battered Grand Prairie starter Derek Blacksher, a former clubhouse favorite who is second on Wichitas all-time wins list and beat the Air Hogs in the playoffs while pitching for the Wingnuts in 2009.
The person or the team on the other side is inconsequential for the Wingnuts, who have won six straight overall and reached 71 total wins with a .689 winning percentage.
Three more, Hooper said. Thats it.
Wichita 13, Grand Prairie 0
|Pinckney 3b||3||0||1||0||Khoury ss||4||1||3||3|
|A. Rodriguez 1b||4||0||0||0||Kahaulelio 2b||4||0||1||1|
|Karr dh||4||0||2||0||J. Rodriguez dh||4||1||1||0|
|Newell lf||4||0||0||0||Beaird dh||1||1||1||0|
|Flores c||4||0||0||0||Ziegler 1b||4||2||3||1|
|Mozingo rf||3||0||0||0||Clevlen cf||5||2||3||1|
|Pineda 2b||3||0||0||0||Nieves 3b||5||2||2||2|
|Kiniry cf||3||0||0||0||Armstrong c||3||1||0||1|
|Nishimoto ss||3||0||0||0||Bowden c/ph||1||0||0||0|
|Wichita||031||101||43x||||13 19 1|
E A. Rodriguez (1), Flores (1), Khoury (1). LOB Grand Prairie 5, Wichita 8. 2B Khoury 2 (2), Ziegler (1),, Clevlen (1), Nieves (1). 3B J. Rodriguez (1), Cleveln (2), Amberson (1), McDonald (1). HR Khoury (1). SF Kahaulelio (2), Armstrong (1). S Khoury. SB Mozingo (1), Kahaulelio (1).
|Blacksher L, 0-1||4 1/3||10||5||3||0||3|
|Capra W, 1-0||7 1/3||3||0||0||1||9|
WP Blacksher. Umpires Home, Mike OLeary; first, Joe Pascucci; third, Art.
T 2:45. A 1024.