The Wingnuts took the suspense out of a 14-1 win over Lincoln so early that even the middle-innings drama wasn't all that dramatic.
The benches cleared Friday at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium when Wichita starter Nick Singleton threw behind Lincoln outfielder Argelis Nunez with the first pitch of the sixth inning. A half-inning before, Wingnuts catcher Jeff Christy was hit by a pitch from Lincoln reliever Adam Furrow.
But there was no brawl. No punches thrown, no ejections. Just some jawing back and forth as players from both teams ignored umpires' orders to leave the field. Eventually they all did, and there was no further incident.
The game even turned comical when Lincoln first baseman Phil Hawke pitched the bottom of the eighth and was playfully conversing with Wichita players.
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The path to the flare-up began in the fourth inning. The Wingnuts, already ahead 5-1, scored six runs to create a nearly insurmountable lead.
Lincoln took offense to a stolen base by Wichita's Chris Colton and a bunt single by Christy when the Wingnuts were already comfortably ahead, so in the fifth, Christy was hit by Furrow, who admitted the pitch was intentional.
"You don't do that," Furrow said. "An 8-1 lead, it's not part of baseball. They know that. (Hitting him) is just part of the game. When he comes up again, you get him. It's nothing personal, it just is what it is."
The Wingnuts had a three-run lead on Sioux Falls on Thursday night before allowing 15 unanswered runs in a 16-4 loss. They seemed to be playing with the mindset that no lead was safe.
"We were still playing baseball in the fourth inning," Christy said. "That's about all I'm going to comment on it. They said they thought we were up too much (to bunt), so they have their own opinions on it."
Lincoln — and Furrow, in particular — either didn't know or didn't care about the Wingnuts' meltdown from the previous night. Furrow said he got the order from manager Marty Scott to hit Christy, but that he would have done it even without Scott's directive.
"It doesn't matter what inning it is," Furrow said. "With that big a lead, if you're up five or six runs, you don't steal. That's just a rule of baseball. You don't do it.
"The stolen base, not so much. But the bunt — you're up (seven) runs, get in there and hit. You're a catcher, you're not a bunter."
Christy trotted calmly to first after he was hit. Nunez wasn't as understanding when Singleton threw behind him. He took two steps toward the mound and extended his arms, then the benches and bullpens cleared. Scott and Wingnuts first base coach Brian Rose exhanged the most heated words, but the argument never turned violent.
Singleton came close to admitting the pitch was on purpose before backing off.
"Baseball dictates how the game is going to be played," Singleton said. "First pitch of the inning, I always try to go outside because I always miss in. I tried to go inside and that's exactly what happened, I missed."
The incident overshadowed, though barely, a strong start from Singleton and a breakout game for Wichita's offense, particularly Stephen Pearson, who was mired in a season-long slump.
Pearson entered with a .200 batting average, two extra-base hits and four RBIs. He significantly added to those numbers by going 4 for 5 with two triples, a double and four RBIs.
"I feel like I've been swinging like I was in (2008) when I didn't have an approach, I was just hacking," Pearson said. "I need to go back last year where I take some pitches, have an idea of what might be coming and get good pitches to hit."
Every Wingnut starter reached base and all but Michael Thompson had a hit. Seven Wichita hitters had multi-hit games, and Ryan Patterson matched Pearson's four RBIs.
The Wingnuts arrived in Wichita from Sioux Falls Friday morning. They didn't take on-field batting practice before Friday's game.
"When you get in around 8:30, you want to get some sleep and show up at the ballpark," Christy said. "We just hit in the cage today, so that kind of saved us a little bit from the heat. We came out and swung the bats well."
Singleton pitched seven innings, allowing one earned run with six strikeouts. He improved to 3-2 and lowered his ERA to 1.82.
Machado ss4020Williams lf6132
Dickey cf4010Patterson rf6034
Hawke 3b-p4000Horn ss5120
Nunez lf4000Nicholas dh6120
Alvarez rf4120Thompson 3b5100
Richardson 1b4010Colton cf3321
McGill c3010Pearson 1b5343
Alvarez dh3011Christy c4343
Jadlowski 2b1000Brooks 2b4111
Totals34 1 8 1Totals44o14o21o14
Lincoln000 100 100 —1 Wichita122o610o20x —14
Errors— Furrow (1). LOB—Lincoln 8, Wichita 12. 2B—Patterson 2 (7), Pearson (3), Brooks (4). 3B—Pearson 2 (2). SB—Horn (4), Colton (6). CS—Patterson (2). HP—Christy (2), Brooks (1).
Weitzman L, 2-33 1/3107721
Singleton W, 3-2761126
HB— Weitzman (3), Furrow (1). WP—Singleton 2 (3).