The Wingnuts are finding multiple statistical benefits for their late-inning offense.
Not only are batting averages and RBI totals improving when Wichita scores late, pitchers are reaping the rewards, too.
The Wingnuts’ two seventh-inning runs against Laredo Wednesday allowed Justin Klipp to earn the win in Wichita’s 2-1 victory at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. Klipp allowed an unearned run and looked to be exiting with a deficit before Wichita got clutch hits from Colt Loehrs and Ryan Khoury.
Tuesday, Wichita scored in the sixth and seventh innings to hand Tim Brown a win after his seven strong innings. Anthony Capra received similar perks the night before.
“Those guys have been doing great all year and the three starters the last three days have put us in a spot where we get a couple runs and we feel pretty comfortable,” Khoury said. “They’re just pounding the (strike) zone. That’s a good hitting team over there – if you look at their stats and everything, they’re obviously doing something right.”
Laredo entered the four-game series with a .347 team batting average and having scored 47 runs in the previous four games, which included a single-run effort against Grand Prairie last Thursday.
The Lemurs’ offense has been largely ordinary against Wichita pitchers, managing six runs on 15 hits against Capra, Brown, Klipp and the Wingnuts’ bullpen. All three Wichita starters have completed seven innings in 85 or fewer pitches, building a bridge to the late-inning relievers that the Lemurs also can’t figure out.
“Each of us are different as pitchers,” Klipp said. “Pitching to our strengths is what is key, and just trusting ourselves as pitchers and not letting (the stats intimidate us). We know that we’re good, and we’re going to get outs. We’re just coming right after them and mixing it up.”
Klipp was just as timely Wednesday as Wichita’s hitting, building his efficiency off an ability to erase baserunners. The Wingnuts ended three innings with double plays and though Klipp allowed eight to reach base, only two got past first.
The run against him, in the fourth inning, was unearned after catcher J.T. Wise threw wide to second base on Devin Goodwin’s stolen base, allowing Goodwin to move to third. Klipp erased leadoff singles in the next two innings with double plays, then finished off his outing with another one.
“With J.T. back there, he’s great at calling games,” Klipp said. “When a guy got on, I just went to my slider, let them roll it over and we got our double-play balls.”
The Wingnuts’ defense, especially the middle-infield combination of Khoury and second baseman Jake Kahaulelio, seems to make its most impressive plays when groundball pitchers such as Klipp and Brown are on the mound.
“We’ve got a really good defensive infield, so it’s awesome when those sinkerball guys are coming in throwing strikes,” Khoury said. “You’re always thinking, ‘I’m going to get a groundball here in the next couple pitches.’ It keeps you on your toes, and they’re doing a good job of just letting the defense play.”
Klipp held Laredo at one run but the Wingnuts were unable to break through against Tyler Pearson for the first six innings despite multiple opportunities. Wichita wasted two walks in the third, a leadoff walk in the fourth and a leadoff single by Colt Loehrs in the fifth.
Pearson seemed to be completely settled in by the sixth, having completed the last two innings on 17 total pitches. A routine fly ball by Mike Hernandez to start the bottom of the seventh, though, started Wichita’s rally as left fielder J.P. Ramirez lost the ball in the lights and Hernandez ended up on third.
With one out, Loehrs blooped an RBI single that hit the first-base foul line, but he was thrown out trying to stretch it to a double. David Amberson followed with a walk and stole second to reach scoring position for Khoury.
The Wingnuts’ leadoff hitter, who frequently finds himself in favorable counts, lined a 2-1 pitch off the left-field wall that barely missed becoming a home run but served its purpose as the game-winning RBI.
“We weren’t getting hits with runners in scoring position,” Khoury said. “It’s not going to happen every time, and that’s why we just have to keep grinding, keep getting those guys on base. (Amberson) gets on and steals second for me right there, and that was huge. I’m glad I was able to come up with a hit.”
|Vn Strttn cf||4||0||0||0||Khoury ss||3||0||1||1|
|Goodwin ss||4||1||1||0||Testa lf||3||0||1||0|
|Denker 2b||3||0||0||1||Kahaullo 2b||4||0||1||0|
|Avila 1b||3||0||1||0||Clevlen cf||3||0||0||0|
|Flores c||1||0||0||0||Wise c||4||0||0||0|
|Ramirez lf||3||0||1||0||Hernndz dh||3||1||1||0|
|Alonso dh||3||0||0||0||McMrry 1b||2||0||0||0|
|Kain rf||3||0||1||0||Ambersn rf||1||1||0||0|
E— Ramirez, Wise. DP— Laredo 2, Wichita 3. LOB— Laredo 2, Wichita 6. 2B— Khoury, Hernandez. SB — Goodwin, Clevlen, Amberson. CS — Kain. SF — Denker. S — Amberson.
|Pearson L,2-1||6 2/3||5||2||2||5||1|
Umpires—Home, Andy Vincent; first, Darius Ghani; second, Harrison Silverman.
T— 2:26. A— 2,432.