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Wingnuts’ Capra nearly throws no-hitter in 2-0 win

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, May 21, 2014, at 11:05 p.m.

Anthony Capra has a lot of new Wingnuts teammates, and he didn’t get to know any of them on Wednesday night.

Capra took an unconventional no-hitter into the late innings against Kansas City, a feat met by the typical silent treatment from teammates adhering to baseball tradition.

The former Wichita State left-hander allowed a single with one out in the ninth inning, ending his night at 139 pitches before closer Matt Nevarez finished off a 2-0 Wingnuts win.

Teammates unloaded admiration upon Capra following his exit, and Capra walked off the Lawrence-Dumont Stadium mound to a standing ovation from 2,244 fans who just missed witnessing Wichita’s third no-hitter in seven seasons.

“Obviously you want to finish it, especially when you get that deep,” Capra said. “But when you do get back to the dugout and you realize that it’s over, it’s a relief. The tension is off, you can go relax and catch your breath finally. Luckily, we finished that one off.”

Even with an escalating pitch count, Capra was going to get a chance to complete the no-hitter. Manager Kevin Hooper went all in on allowing Capra to go for it when he kept Capra, making his second start this season, in the game after he threw 111 pitches through seven innings.

Capra’s pitch count soared because he wasn’t consistently throwing strikes, an oddity for a performance that was mostly baffling to Kansas City batters.

He walked exactly one batter in eight of nine innings, but aside from the ninth-inning single by Nick Giarraputo that ended the no-hitter, Capra didn’t allow any other baserunners. Only one of those walks led to a T-Bones runner reaching scoring position, and that happened in the first inning.

Walks later on had Capra wondering if they would prevent him from trying for the no-hitter

“Obviously if someone gets a hit at that point, you’re done,” Capra said. “Even a walk at that point, that may be time to make a decision because the game is more important than a no-hitter.”

Capra said he started operating almost strictly on adrenaline by the seventh inning, which was when Hooper was most internally pressed on how to handle Capra’s pursuit. The two talked in the eighth, agreeing to take a hitter-by-hitter approach, which was just a formal way of concluding that Capra wasn’t coming out until he allowed a hit.

“He’s brutally honest with me all the time, and if he wants it I’m not going to take him out,” Hooper said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I know he threw a ton of pitches, but it is what it is. That’s something that you may never have an opportunity to do, and I was going to give him that opportunity as long as he wanted it.”

The “go for it” mentality was perilous because, even without the walks, Kansas City seemed determined to keep Capra’s pitch count rapidly rising.

From the start of the sixth inning until Giarraputo’s single, only one T-Bones at-bat was completed in fewer than four pitches – Brian Erie’s first-pitch flyout in the eighth. Kansas City most often worked deep counts, increasing the likelihood for either a walk or a strikeout.

Capra reached both results often, offsetting the eight walks with nine strikeouts.

“He slowed himself down well,” Wingnuts catcher Chris McMurray said. “He kept the ball in the zone, gave infielders a chance to get out of innings and get quick outs. Runners on, runners not on, you’ve still got to throw strikes.”

Wichita scored both of its runs in the sixth with the aid of David Amberson’s speed. The Wingnuts’ No. 9 batter legged out a double on a ball fielded in left-center, then stole third without a throw before scoring on Jake Kahaulelio’s double; Kahaulelio came in on a fielder’s choice.

Capra took care of the rest – most of the rest, anyway. Matt Nevarez, who received a pep talk from Hooper about staying calm in Capra’s aftermath, walked a batter to load the bases in the ninth but struck out Byron Wiley to end the game.

Capra said the no-hitter allowed him to stay focused while he battled command issues.

“I think it gives you a little adrenaline, a little motivation,” Capra said. “You want to keep it in tact. At 125 pitches, you’re dead out there but you’re pitching on will.”

Kansas CityWichita
Kuzdale cf2000Khoury ss3100
Espinosa 1b4000Kahaullo 2b4021
Sabatella rf2000Clevlen cf4010
Giarrpto dh4010Wise 1b3000
Richar 2b3000Hernandez dh3001
Frias ss3000Hazlett 3b3000
Wiley lf3000McMurray c3000
Mittlstft 3b2000Testa lf3010
Erie c2000Amberson rf2110

Kansas City0000000000

DP— Wichita. LOB— KC 7, Wichita 5. 2B— Kahaulelio 2 (3), Amberson (1). SB —Amberson (3)

Fowler L,0-1222222

Wichita IP H R ER BB SO
Capra W,2-08 1/310089
Nevarez S,42/300011

HBP — Amberson by Fowler. WP — Capra 2. Umpires—Home, Randy Wilmes; first, Shawn Hicks; third, Dan Hoffman.

T— 2:37. A— 2,244.

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