During all the talk about the Wingnuts' poor clutch hitting during the last two games, Mario Delgado's name has been noticeably absent.
That's because Delgado has been immune to the failures most of the rest of Wichita's hitters have experienced. Delgado came up with two more important hits Saturday night, driving in four runs to lead the Wingnuts to a 10-9 win over St. Paul at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
The Wingnuts led 7-0 after the second inning and trailed 9-7 before coming up with three runs in the eighth.
"That guy's amazing, man," Wingnuts center fielder Chris Colton said of Delgado. "Every single time he steps up in the clutch. He's a veteran, and that's what veterans are supposed to do."
Delgado leads the Wingnuts with 10 RBIs through eight games. Ryan Patterson has the team's second-highest total with four.
Eric Williams, who has reached base in 13 of his last 15 plate appearances, led off the eighth with a walk against St. Paul reliever Payton Tweddale. Patterson also walked, but the left-handed Tweddale stayed in for matchup purposes to face the left-handed Delgado.
Delgado got ahead in the count 2-0 before lining a double to the gap in right-center field, scoring Williams and Patterson to tie it 9-all.
"My mindset is always to keep banging," Delgado said. "They scored that many runs; we're just as good so we can score that many runs, too. We had to do it late in the game."
After Michael Thompson sacrificed against new reliever Kyle Foster and Stephen Pearson drew an intentional walk to put runners on first and third, Colton lined the first pitch he saw from Foster up the middle to score Delgado with what proved to be the winning run.
"I know they were trying to set up a double play," Colton said. "But anytime somebody walks somebody to get to me, I really take it as an insult. I went to third base to talk to (manager Kevin Hooper) and I was like, 'Hoop, this is what I live for.' "
A Wingnuts rally seemed just as improbable as the Saints erasing the early deficit. Wichita had lost four early games by less than three runs thanks to a lack of clutch hitting, and it appeared another game would produce similar results. The Wingnuts left eight runners on base between the third and eighth innings.
The second inning provided temporary breathing room, though. After the Wingnuts scored on an error by shortstop Steve Mays, Jeff Christy delivered an RBI single to make it 2-0.
The Saints should have been out of the inning with minimal damage. But Patterson's fly ball was dropped in center field by Coby Smith, who retreated close to the warning track but couldn't hang on. Three runs scored, and Delgado's two-run homer on the next pitch made the tally five unearned runs in the inning.
Both of Delgado's RBI hits were against left-handed pitching. He had a double in the sixth against right-hander Zach Peterson.
"Lefties, I stay on the ball longer than I do against righties," Delgado said. "It allows my hands to work a little bit better. I can hit both just as equally, it's not one way or the other. I just stayed on the ball well today."
A two-run homer by Ole Sheldon in the third inning started trouble for Wingnuts starter Brandon Mathes, who was making his first start of the season. He left after 3 2/33 innings, allowing six runs. Reliever Will Morgan couldn't hold the lead, surrendering a two-run fifth, and St. Paul added a run against Dustin Pease in the seventh.
All of that set the stage for the Wingnuts' second win in their final at-bat. Josh Horn had a game-ending single against Sioux Falls on Tuesday.
"It never hurts to win a game like this," Delgado said. "It's a confidence builder. We go home with a smile and we come to the field tomorrow with a smile on our faces."
Smith cf5211Nicholas ss5000
Alley lf5231Williams lf3220
Sheldon dh4122Patterson rf4211
Cooper 1b4022Delgado dh5234
Krause rf4000Thompson 2b3110
Haran c4110Pearson 1b4010
Estrella 2b5220Colton cf5121
Butler 3b5020Christy c4121
Mays ss4111Dziomba 3b4120
Totals40 9 14 7Totals37o10o14o7
St. Paul002 420 100 —9 Wichita070o000o030 —10
Errors— Smith (1), Estrella (2), Nicholas (1), Williams (1). LOB—St. Paul 10, Wichita 11. 2B—Cooper 2 (3), Haran (4), Estrella (1), Delgado (2). 3B—Smith (1). HR—Sheldon (4), Delgado (1). SB—Alley (4), Williams (1), Colton 2 (3). HP—Cooper. SF—Smith (1), Mays (1).
Tweddale L, 0-1013320
Howard W, 1-0100001
Dowdy S (2) 100001
HB—Cooper by Mathes (1).