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Wise homers twice in Wingnuts’ win

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, June 20, 2014, at 11:08 p.m.

Fargo-Moorhead at Wingnuts

When: 7:05 p.m. Saturday

Where: Lawrence-Dumont Stadium

Records: Fargo-Moorhead 20-14, Wingnuts 24-11

Pitchers: F-M, RH Brian Ernst (2-3, 6.57 ERA); Wingnuts, LH Anthony Capra (4-2, 2.23)

Radio: KWME, 92.7-FM

J.T. Wise has raised his batting average 48 points in 10 days, and it happened about as gradually as it sounds.

Wise has been stacking up multi-hit games during a hitting streak that reached nine games with another such game on Friday night. Wise didn’t just settle for multiple hits, though – the Wingnuts’ designated hitter blasted two home runs in Wichita’s 5-1 win over Fargo-Moorhead at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.

Wise has 15 hits during his hitting streak, raising his average from .240 to .288. His slugging percentage has jumped 122 points in the same stretch, as he has tallied four homers and five doubles.

His averaged reached a season low on June 10 as he completed a 4-for-30 stretch. Wise was batting .300 12 days before that.

“It’s better off to get (a slump) out of the way now while it’s still fairly early,” Wise said. “It’s harder to come back later on in the season. I try not to look at stats because then you start pressing. You try to hit five-run homers when you can’t. I’ve always prided myself on my hitting, and I just try not to let it get to me if things aren’t going so good.”

The tale of Wise’s skid was told in his first at-bat Friday, when a line drive to left field, perhaps the hardest ball he hit all night, was easily caught. Such was Wise’s fate often during the first 10 days of June, when he often ran into similar bad luck.

Friday, though, Wise’s out gave a more positive indication of what was to come. He continued to hit the ball hard, launching his first homer in the fifth inning, a solo shot that put the Wingnuts ahead 2-0. In the eighth, Wise connected for a two-run smash, giving him multiple RBIs for the third time in seven games.

Wise leads the Wingnuts with five home runs, giving Wichita a legitimate power threat in a lineup mostly stocked with high-average and speed-oriented hitters.

“He’s got that in him,” Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. “He works hard. I love him. Love him. He’s a hard worker. He’s hard on himself, he expects a lot of himself, and he’s starting to show signs of the hard work he’s put in.

“He was sitting here one night and he was worried about how he was performing, and I said, ‘I’m not worried about you. I’ve got confidence in you and you need to have confidence in yourself.’ He’s just so hard on himself at times. I try to make him laugh, smile here and there, because he expects a lot out of himself.”

Wise’s homers were plenty of offense for ace Jon Link, whose statistics are also trending favorably. Since a disastrous season-opening outing that started him with a 13.50 ERA, that number has shrunk in all but one start since, dropping to a season-best 3.09 after Friday’s effort.

“It didn’t have anywhere else to go, it couldn’t get much higher,” Link said. “For me, it’s not about the ERA, it’s not about strikeouts. It’s about winning ballgames, and that’s what I helped us do tonight.”

Link struck out six in seven innings, but his quick innings – he threw 15 or fewer pitches in six of seven – were more a product of inducing weak contact early in counts and staying on the attack even when he got ahead in the count.

While Fargo-Moorhead was damaging its hopes with four errors – including three wild pickoff throws to first on which a Wichita runner advanced to third – Link was watching his defense make the routine plays look less difficult, even without second baseman Jake Kahaulelio, who is away attending a family wedding.

“Our defense has been second to none all year,” Link said. “We’ve got a lot of guys on this team that can play defense at the big-league level, and they come here and do it night-in and night-out.”

Penprase ss4000Khoury ss4020
Bourquin 3b4110Ambersn rf4020
Carroll lf4011Testa lf4020
Rethrfrd 1b4000Clevlen cf4000
Jackson cf3010McMurray c2210
Paramore c2000Wise dh4223
Alberts dh4000McClendn 3b4121
Newton 2b3000Loehrs 1b3000
Kaskadden rf3010Oldham 2b2001

Fargo0000010001 4 4
Wichita01001012x5 11 0

E – Newton (4), Woods (1), Fuqua (1), Gutierrez (1). DP – Fargo 2. LOB — Fargo 6, Wichita 6. 2B – Bourquin (6), McClendon (5). HR – Wise 2 (5). SB – Loehrs (7). CS – Amberson (4), Loehrs (2).

Gutierrez L, 2-35 2/362242
Fuqua1 1/331102

Wichita IP H R ER BB SO
Link W, 4-27 1/341117

HBP – Jackson by Hinshaw (2). Umpires—Home, Art Thigpen; 1B, Sam Burch; 3B, Trent Delmont.

T – 2:42. A – 3,943.

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