Off the field, Wingnuts right-hander Luke Massetti can mask his superior intelligence with a laid-back demeanor that suggests he doesn't let too much bother him.
It makes sense that Massetti carries that attitude to the pitcher's mound. Through no fault of his own, Massetti's outing against Grand Prairie could have fallen apart on multiple occasions. But he pitched through the trouble to earn the win in the Wingnuts' 8-5 triumph over Grand Praire. Wichita has won five straight, continuing their season-best winning streak.
Massetti allowed four runs, but thanks to a pair of Wichita errors, all of them were unearned.
"You have to keep your focus," Massetti said. "Errors do happen, but (with) composure and focus you have to pick your guys up. It was only two errors, but they were noticeable, so I really made the extra effort to focus."
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Massetti's outing was without trouble until the fourth; he retired 11 in a row to start the game before allowing a two-out walk to David Espinosa. The next batter, former Wingnuts outfielder Greg Porter, lined a single just over Massetti's head to give the Air Hogs their first scoring opportunity.
That's when Massetti first had to gather himself for a crucial situation.
"Along the same lines, just understanding it's going to happen," Massetti said. "Perfect games do happen, but it's the third inning so you keep it in perspective."
Michael Hollimon worked a full count against Massetti, but Massetti won the battle by getting Hollimon to hit a lazy fly ball to left field. Jackson Melian didn't get all the way under it, though, and it hit off the edge of his glove before falling to the ground, allowing both runs to score and tying it 2-2.
The next batter, Robert Perry, also went to a 3-2 count, but Massetti struck him out looking on the at-bat's sixth pitch. Massetti said he takes mental notes when watching teammates Nick Singleton, Adam Cowart and Gabe Medina pitch.
"What they do real well in tight situations, they lock in better," Massetti said. "That's what I've been focusing on, is making my pitch. That's what it comes down to. Getting ahead is the key, then it's just that extra focus and putting it on the line."
Massetti allowed two hits into the seventh inning, when the defense let him down again.
Though he didn't survive the inning, leaving after allowing an RBI single to Ben Petralli and walking Joe Spiers, the two runs that scored after an error on second baseman Rene Ruiz became unearned when reliever Brandon Mathes escaped a jam with a double play that ended the top of the seventh.
"He's great, I love him," Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said of Massetti. "He wants the ball all the time and he's going to give you everything he's got. That's one thing you can guarantee yourself with him."
The Wingnuts continued their hot hitting, raising their runs total in three games against Grand Prairie to 27. The Wingnuts scored three unearned runs but got contributions from several hitters, most notably Jorge Cortes.
In his ninth game since joining the Wingnuts earlier this month, Cortes had three hits to raise his average to .361. He hit his third double and had a pair of RBIs to give him eight for the season. Josh Horn and Michael Bell also had multi-hit games for the Wingnuts.
"It's contagious — I always talk about hitting being contagious," Hooper said. "We're on a good little run right now where we've been good offensively. We've still got to put up some better at-bats in situations with guys on base, because we could have even put up more the last couple nights. But we've put up quality at-bats when we've needed to at times and been able to add on (runs) quite a bit."