Baseball is a game in which nothing is ever certain and anything can change day-to-day. Or, in the Wingnuts' case on Thursday, hour-to-hour.
After using strong situational hitting to win the first game of a doubleheader 4-3 over Sioux Falls, including a game-ending single by Josh Horn, the Wingnuts failed in several key situations and lost the second game 5-3 at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
The Wingnuts took two of three games in the home-opening series, but they could have had more — they grounded into four double plays in the nightcap.
"We're pretty inconsistent with that right now, not real good," Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. "How many double play balls did we hit into? We talk all the time about having approaches. Their guy is a sinkerball pitcher, you've got to go up there with a plan."
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Though the Wingnuts' execution in the first game wasn't perfect, they came through more often than not. Ryan Patterson drove in runs with a pair of one-out singles, and Michael Thompson's RBI hit in the first helped Wichita grab a 3-0 lead in the third inning.
Wichita missed a chance to break it open in the fourth inning after getting runners to second and third with one out before Jeff Christy and Patrick Brooks were retired on groundouts.
Failing to add on cost the Wingnuts even more in the bottom of the fourth, when starting pitcher Adam Cowart issued a leadoff four-pitch walk then allowed the Pheasants to tie it 3-3 after two doubles and a sacrifice fly.
"It all starts with the leadoff walk," Hooper said. "Leadoff walks come back to haunt you, and it did. He walked (Trevor Lawhorn) on four straight pitches. He threw three pitches in the same spot and didn't make an adjustment."
Even though Cowart couldn't earn the win after being relieved after six innings, Wichita's offense picked him up in the seventh. Chris Colton doubled to start the final inning on a ball misplayed by center fielder Reggie Abercrombie. Christy failed to execute a sacrifice bunt, but after a Brooks single moved Colton to third, Horn provided the winning run with a bouncing single to right field.
"He threw me a first-pitch slider and there was a hole over there," Horn said. "Luckily, I made a good swing on it and got it through."
The Wingnuts were sluggish to start the second game, making two errors in the first two innings that led to three unearned runs and helped Sioux Falls take a 5-1 lead.
There were plenty of chances to erase the deficit, though. Mario Delgado's RBI single in the first put runners on first and third with one out in the first innings, but Michael Thompson helped provide the theme of the game by grounding into a double play.
A second double play killed a rally in the third inning, but more disappointment was to come. Three straight walks by Pheasants starter Ryan Shaver loaded the bases with no outs, and the Wingnuts managed one run after a run-scoring double play by Jeff Giacomini and Brooks' groundout.
A double play kept Wichita from scoring more than one run in the fifth; they were retired in order only in the sixth inning.
"He just walked a couple guys in front of you, you've got to be patient," Hooper said. "See the ball up. A sinkerball guy, you've got to see the ball up because that ball is going to be up eventually. When we laid off pitches, the ball ended up being down and he ended up walking some guys."
The only hitters who didn't have much trouble against Shaver were Delgado, who had two hits and two RBIs, and Eric Williams, who was on base four times with three singles and a walk.
"They made some good pitches," Williams said. "We've got to make some adjustments. But we'll be all right. We'll be able to make adjustments."
Wichita 4, Sioux Falls 3
Anthsn 2b3000Horn ss4120
Abrcmb cf3000Williams lf3110
Trbrt lf3000Patterson rf3122
Sing 1b2010Delgado dh3010
Milner rf3010Thompsn 3b3011
Lawhrn 3b2100Pearson 1b2000
Rdrgz c3112Colton cf3120
Jobes dh3112Christy c3000
Httng ss2000Brooks 2b3010
Sioux Falls000o030o0 — 3 Wichita201 000 1 — 4
E—Sing, Hutting 2. LOB—Sioux Falls 4, Wichita 5. 2B—Rodriguez (1), Jobes (3), Colton (1). SB—Horn (1). SF—Anthonsen.
Zachary (L, 0-1) 1/3311100
Hurn (W, 1-1) 100011
Sioux Falls 5, Wichita 3
Anthsn 2b4110Horn ss2210
Abrcmb dh4111Williams lf3030
Torbert lf3100Patterson rf4000
Sing 1b2110Delgado dh3021
Lwhorn 3b3010Thompson 3b2100
Jobes rf3011Pearson 1b1000
Milner cf3000Colton cf2000
Richards c3020Giacomini c3000
Hutting ss3100Brooks 2b2000
Sioux Falls320 000 0 — 5 Wichita100 110 0 — 3
E — Horn, Thompson, Medina. LOB — Sioux Falls 3, Wichita 6. 2B—Sing (1), Richards (1). HR — Abercrombie (2). SB — Delgado (1).
HBP — Horn (by Shaver). T — 2:06. A — 1,537.