The Wingnuts spent the better part of the final two games of their weekend series against Kansas City trying to catch up to the T-Bones, and Wichita was often successful.
Tying the score was never the problem. Getting a run to take the lead before Kansas City did, however, proved to be the Wingnuts' downfall. Sunday, the Wingnuts tied it with three runs in the seventh, but a solo home run by Dwayne White in the eighth was the difference in Kansas City's 7-6 win at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
Saturday, the Wingnuts had it deadlocked 3-3 before allowing three late runs. Kansas City took two of three games in the series after Wichita extended the T-Bones' losing streak to eight games on Friday.
"We've (rallied) a lot this year, we've been pretty good at doing it," Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. "We can continue to battle. We keep putting guys on and putting ourselves in position. But the problem is putting ourselves in that situation too much."
A night after walking in the go-ahead run, Wingnuts left-handed reliever Eric Gilliland got another chance to stop a Kansas City scoring threat.
Gilliland relieved starter Justin Murray with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh. He went to a 3-1 count on lefty Rico Washington and was essentially forced to throw a fastball, which Washington ripped to the right-field corner, clearing the bases and putting the T-Bones ahead 6-3.
Gilliland's job was to retire Washington without letting the runners advance, then Hooper would call on Jared Simon for a righty-righty matchup against cleanup hitter Ray Sadler.
" (Washington) had seen Murray three times," Hooper said. "We wanted a different look there, especially in that situation, bases loaded. I had the plan to go to him and then go right to Simon for Sadler, but it didn't work out that way."
Just as Wichita's pitching faltered, so did Kansas City's. T-Bones starter Reid Santos had a rough fifth inning, allowing two runs, but bounced back to retire the Wingnuts in order in the sixth.
Pitching with a lead, Santos couldn't match Wichita's urgency. Edwin Bellorin drew a four-pitch walk before scoring on a triple by Mike Conroy, who was brought in on a groundout that chased Santos.
The Wingnuts re-ignited against Steven Stewart. Josh Horn doubled and Ryan Patterson brought in the tying run with a single.
"We should some perseverance and came through in the clutch," Conroy said. "Obviously it wasn't enough."
Cephas Howard, the weak link in a bullpen that has improved recently, got two strikes on White but couldn't finish him off. On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, White crushed a homer well beyond the fence in right-center field.
"We scored in the bottom of that inning, which is always a good thing, which good teams do," Conroy said. "Great teams shut them down after that. Great teams shut them down after scoring three."
Howard has an 8.30 ERA in nine games and has proved unreliable in most situations, walking seven in 8 2/3 innings.
"He's going to have to (figure it out)," Hooper said. "We can't just sit around with any guys, whether it's Cephas or whoever. We can't just sit on guys. We've got to win ballgames and we've got to win ballgames every night."
The Wingnuts got a runner to scoring position in the ninth after a leadoff walk, but Josh Workman was stranded at second after three straight groundouts.
"The name of the game is to win," Conroy said. "You've got to score one more run than the other guy, and we didn't do that today."
Eggleston cf5220Horn ss4121
Mojica ss5000Patterson cf4011
Washngtn 3b4123Cortes rf4010
Sadler rf4122Richardson 3b4000
Jaspe c5021Delgado 1b4000
Joynt 1b4000Workman dh3010
White dh4111Bellorin c3320
Espinosa lf3110Conroy lf4222
Garcia 2b2110Fitzgerald 2b3021
Kansas City200 001 310 — 7 Wichita001 020 300 — 6
E—Murray (1). DP—Kansas City 2, Wichita 1. LOB—Kansas City 7, Wichita 3. 2B—Eggleston (10), Sadler (7), Horn (7), Bellorn 2 (7). 3B—Washington 2 (3), Conroy (5). HR—White (2). SB—Sadler 2 (5), Garcia (3). CS—Garcia (2), Patterson (3). S—Garcia (2).
Stewart W, 1-01 1/300000
Shipman S, 3100010
Howard L, 2-2111111
Umpires—Home, Travis Godec; First, Tony Senia; Third, Danny Hymel.