It didn’t take long for the Wingnuts to put it all together.
A night after a season-opening slugfest, the Wingnuts did almost all of the slugging, smashing Grand Prairie 9-1 at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium on Friday night.
Wichita had three multi-run innings, were never retired in order, and had five of six hits go for extra bases during one nine-batter stretch. Anthony Capra prevented a second straight high-scoring affair with six shutout innings in his 2014 debut.
“I wish it was that easy, two games in, where you’ve got everything going the way you want,” Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. “That was a good one tonight, that was pretty flawless, especially coming off a crazy one (Thursday) night.”
Capra didn’t immediately put the clamps on a prolific follow-up to Thursday’s 10-8 Wingnuts win, allowing singles to the first two batters, who were waiting on fastballs at the belt that caught too much of the strike zone.
After a leadoff double by Palmer Karr in the second, Capra quickly fixed his command issue – one that never plagued his baffling change-up, which he grips with his fingers spread in a v-shaped grip.
After a third-inning single, Capra didn’t allow another hit, retiring nine in a row before surrendering his first walk with two outs in the eighth.
“That’s the thing for him – if he can keep the ball down and through strike one, you’re going to see nights like tonight. They’re not going to do a whole lot,” Hooper said. “That vulcan change-up is probably one of the better ones you’re going to see from a left-hander.”
Grand Prairie’s lineup includes ex-major leaguer Jason Botts, Abel Nieves, who won the batting title with the Wingnuts last season, and several former Triple-A sluggers, but Capra limited them with his dominant middle innings.
Like Capra, Grand Prairie starter Trevor Harden escaped a rocky first inning. But unlike his counterpart, Harden couldn’t keep the damage limited.
Wingnuts third baseman Dillon Hazlett started the bottom of the second with a double, a feat matched by the next batter, No. 7 hitter Chris McMurray. Carlo Testa followed with an RBI triple and scored on David Amberson’s single.
Wichita was equally dynamic during its three-run third. Chun-Hsiu Chen’s triple was the most significant blow to Trevor Harden’s ERA, and J.T. Wise’s double along with McMurray’s sacrifice fly also contributed.
“You look on paper, you look at what the guys can do and their ability, and this is going to be a tough lineup for any pitcher,” McMurray said. “At any place, whether we’re at home or on the road.”
McMurray was on base four times and drove in three runs, the last coming on a solo home run to start the bottom of the fifth. That was the Wingnuts’ final hit, but they threatened in every following inning because of the wildness of Grand Prairie’s pitchers.
The AirHogs issued two free passes, either via walk or hit by pitch, in each of the final four innings. None of those batters reached third base, but they illustrated quality at-bats and patience from a lineup whose selectivity adds another dangerous element.
“It’s easy to give at-bats away late in games like that when it’s kind of out of hand like that,” Hooper said. “Playing for a long time and managing for a long time the way I do now, I try to remind them sometimes that every one counts. …You’ve got to stay competitive all the way through.”
Capra’s competitiveness was displayed by his willingness to give in to batters with pitches in the strike zone – usually the edges. Even some of Capra’s best past outings were damaged by walks, but he found a rhythm Friday by frequently getting ahead in the count.
“It was good to see out of him tonight, and hopefully that’s going to set the tone for him,” Hooper said. “He knows his past – walking guys was kind of his problem. Even tonight, he looked calm and collected on the mound and that was good to see.”
|Baker cf||4||0||1||0||Khoury ss||2||1||1||0|
|Pinckney 2b||4||0||1||0||Kahaulelio 2b||3||0||1||0|
|Nieves ss||4||0||1||0||Clevlen cf||4||2||0||0|
|Rodriguez 1b||3||0||0||0||Chen 1b||4||1||1||2|
|Hur 1b||0||0||0||0||Wise dh||3||1||1||1|
|Botts rf||4||0||0||0||Hazlett 3b||3||1||1||0|
|Karr lf||3||0||1||0||Oldham 3b||1||0||0||0|
|Hall 3b||4||1||1||0||McMurray c||3||2||2||3|
|DiFazio dh||4||0||2||1||Testa lf||5||1||2||1|
|Abeita c||4||0||0||0||Amberson rf||4||0||1||1|
|Grand Prairie||000||000||100||—||1 7 1|
|Wichita||033||210||00x||—||9 10 0|
E— Hall (3). DP— Grand Prairie 1. LOB— Grand Prairie 8, Wichita 11. 2B — Karr (3), Hall (1), Wise (1), Hazlett (1), McMurray (2). 3B – Chen (1), Testa (1). HR – McMurray (1). SB – Kahaulelio (2), Testa (2). HBP – Kahaulelio 2 (3) by Hunter, by Cameron. SF – McMurray (1).
|Harden L, 0-1||4||9||8||6||3||2|
|Capra W, 1-0||6||4||0||0||1||8|
HBP — Kahaulelio by Hunter (1). Kahaulelio by Cameron (1). WP — Cameron (1), Link (1). Umpires—Home, Randy Wilges; First, Anthony Sheets; Third, Derek Ivinski.
T — 2:59. A — 2,315.