With two pitchers struggling to throw strikes and two right-handed-heavy lineups taking aim at left field, every at-bat at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium Monday night was liable to produce something noteworthy. And many did.
Except the last one, because it was never completed.
Kansas City’s Bryan Sabatella was thrown out at second by Wingnuts catcher Chris McMurray on the back end of an attempted double steal, salvaging Wichita’s 9-8 win.
The T-Bones had two runners on against shaky Wichita closer Matt Nevarez, who had hit the two previous batters, and had cleanup hitter Nick Giarraputo at the plate. Earlier in the inning, David Espinosa took second without a play to put the tying run into scoring position.
“(Espinosa) is a very knowledgeable, smart guy,” McMurray said. “My only shot was trying to throw behind and try to get Sabatella. I don’t know. It worked out for the best. We’ll just chalk that one up as a win.”
Wind gusts of around 40 mph never calmed, so either Kansas City starting pitcher Justin d’Alessandro or Wingnuts counterpart Alan Williams had to in order to keep the game from becoming even more of a slugfest.
The T-Bones did almost all of the slugging, striking Williams for three doubles during a four-run first, then getting a leadoff homer from Robby Kuzdale, who started the game with a double, in the second.
Wichita did most of its damage in a less exciting fashion, though the Wingnuts picked up the pace on the bases. They emerged from their early 5-0 deficit quickly, getting all the runs back in the second inning on two hits.
The rest of the runs were aided by four d’Alessandro walks and a throwing error on a double steal that allowed Chun-Hsiu Chen to score. The Wingnuts pulled off another double steal in a four-run fourth, finding a way to further frustrate d’Alessandro.
“He’s not only got to think about keeping a (baserunner) close, he’s got to think about throwing strikes,” Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. “He got real erratic there, you could tell, for a while. He got out of that inning and he found it after that. But if you can get to a guy like that in an inning where he’s leaving the ball up and he’s really not anywhere close, you can make some things happen.”
d’Alessandro issued five walks in four innings, giving the Wingnuts the baserunners they needed to turn six hits into nine runs.
The Wingnuts’ fourth inning included a walk and a hit batter, with Jake Kahaulelio providing what proved to be the game-winning runs with a two-run single.
“I think it just comes with getting comfortable,” McMurray said. “You’ve got to get comfortable, you’ve got to look for pitches in certain locations, especially if a guy is wild.”
Williams cured his wildness after issuing his third and fourth walks in the third inning, facing the minimum over his final 3 1/3 innings. Williams came to spring training as a reliever, but with some starting experience in the minors he emerged as a candidate to fill the final spot in Wichita’s rotation.
“When I brought the starting thing to him, he said he felt like he became a better pitcher the further he went,” Hooper said. “He showed that tonight. That was good, impressive, the way he bounced back, because a game like that can get out of hand quick.”
|Kuzdale cf||5||2||2||1||Khoury ss||3||1||1||2|
|Espinosa 1b||4||1||1||1||Kahaulelio 2b||4||0||1||2|
|Sabatella rf||4||2||2||0||Clevlen cf||4||0||0||0|
|Giarraputo 3b||3||2||1||1||Chen 1b||3||1||1||0|
|Richar dh||4||1||2||4||Wise dh||3||1||0||0|
|Frias ss||3||0||1||1||Hazlett 3b||3||0||0||0|
|Mittlestaedt lf||2||0||0||0||McMurray c||3||2||2||1|
|Eric c||3||0||0||0||Testa lf||3||2||1||0|
|Wiley ph||1||0||0||0||Amberson rf||2||2||0||0|
|Kansas City||410||000||030||—||8 9 2|
|Wichita||050||400||00x||—||9 6 0|
E— Espinosa (3), Erie (2). LOB— Kansas City 4, Wichita 2. 2B — Kuzdale (1), Sabatella (2), Richar (1), McMurray (3). HR – Kuzdale (1), Richar (1). SB –Espinosa (2), Sabatella (1), Khoury (4), Chen (1), Wise (1), Amberson 2 (3). CS – Chen (1). HBP – Espinosa (1) by Nevarez; Sabatella (1) by Nevarez; McMurray (2) by DAlessandro.
|DAlessandro L, 0-1||3 1/3||4||9||8||5||2|
|Williams W, 1-0||6||6||5||5||4||3|
|Nevarez S (3)||1||0||0||0||0||1|
HBP — McMurray y DAlessandro (1). Espinosa by Nevarez (1) ; Sabatella by Nevarez (2). Umpires—Home, Shawn Hicks; First, Dan Hoffman; Third, Randy Wilmes.
T — 2:48.