After two games against Wingnuts pitching, Laredo’s hitting numbers are starting to look a little more realistic.
Through 10 games, Laredo was batting .347 with 14 homers and several players threatening or exceeding .400. Through 12 games, the Lemurs are forcing one to wonder how they were so impressive through 10.
Wichita starter Tim Brown held Laredo down over seven innings Tuesday in a 6-2 win at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, and by the late innings the Wingnuts were playing like the team with a stacked lineup. Brown followed a similar outing by Anthony Capra on Monday.
The Wingnuts placed added emphasis on the series with an American Association South Division opponent expected to challenge for a postseason spot.
“Big, no doubt,” Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. “Anytime you play a division foe, you can separate the gap (in the standings). Every single game is huge. Every night is huge, but especially when you’re playing a division opponent, especially a team like these guys who are right behind us. They can swing the bats, and they’ve pitched well, too, so far.”
Capra said he was surprised by the aggressiveness of a Laredo lineup boasting a .381 on-base percentage. The Lemurs had to be aggressive against Brown, who rarely throws anything beyond the edges of the strike zone, which he often hits with pinpoint accuracy.
Any patience by Laredo against Brown led to Lemurs hitters falling behind in the count and increasing the likelihood of quick, painless outs. Brown had a five-inning stretch in which he threw 49 pitches and retired the side in order four times.
“I’m a guy who just goes out and pounds the strike zone,” said Brown, who improve to 2-1 with a 2.75 ERA. “Actually, they seemed a bit more patient tonight. That’s always the thing – just go out and attack, attack, attack. Doing that, you can keep your pitch count down and go deeper into ballgames.”
The only rough spot for Brown in that five-inning stretch – and during his entire start – was the fifth, which started with an error on third baseman Colt Loehrs. The next batter, catcher Angel Flores, drilled a long two-run home run to left field to put the Lemurs ahead 2-1.
But like after an error in the first and a long Wingnuts at-bat in the bottom of the sixth, Brown didn’t allow his rhythm to be broken. After a single, Brown had the half-inning wrapped up in three more pitches, inducing a double-play grounder and retiring Josh Scheffert on a foul-out.
“It’s just being a competitor, I think,” Brown said. “Our guys pick me up so many times with big defensive plays, so when it’s time for me to pick me up, that’s what a team is all about.”
Brown got in line for the win after the Wingnuts broke through against Laredo starter Josh Strawn in the sixth. After Jake Kahaulelio walked and Brent Clevlen broke a slump with a single, J.T. Wise doubled them both home before scoring on an error.
Wise did more damage in the seventh with a two-run single, scoring Kahaulelio and Clevlen again after a single and a double.
The Wingnuts have lost third baseman Dillon Hazlett to injury and first baseman Chun-Hsiu Chen, who left to play in his native Taiwan, but the offense remains efficient, especially the top half of the lineup.
Tuesday, the top five hitters combined for nine hits, five RBIs, six runs and five doubles.
“Guys are stepping up,” Hooper said. “… J.T. Wise was tremendous tonight, a couple big hits. He’s been working on a couple things – worked with (hitting coach Jose Amado Monday), worked with myself (Tuesday). We’re just going to keep working.”
|VStratton cf||4||0||1||0||Khoury ss||5||1||1||0|
|Kain rf||4||0||0||0||Testa lf||4||0||3||1|
|Goodwin ss||3||0||0||0||Kahlelio 2b||3||2||1||0|
|Denker 2b||4||0||0||0||Clevlen cf||4||2||2||0|
|Avila 1b||3||1||0||0||Wise 1b||4||1||2||4|
|Flores c||3||1||1||2||Hernndz dh||4||0||0||0|
|JRamirez lf||3||0||1||0||McMurray c||4||0||2||0|
|CRamirez dh||3||0||0||0||Loehrs 3b||4||0||1||0|
|Scheffert 3b||3||0||0||0||Amberson rf||4||0||1||0|
E — Avila (1), Loehrs 2 (2). DP — Wichita. LOB — Laredo 2, Wichita 7. 2B — Khoury (3), Testa 2 (3), Clevlen (5), Wise (4). HR — Flores (3). CS — Van Stratten, Amberson.
|Strawn L,1-1||5 1/3||8||4||4||1||2|
WP — Touzalik (1). Umpires — Home, Harrison Silverman; first, Andy Vincent; Darius Ghani.
T — 2:26. A — 1,751.