The Wingnuts had a team meeting after Thursday's loss to Lincoln in which the primary topic was combining efforts and figuring out what each player could do to help the team win.
The answer was different for every player, but Jorge Delgado and Junior Guerra found a way to simplify it against the Saltdogs.
Delgado drove in five runs on two swings and Junior Guerra pitched eight solid innings, continuing his rebound since a disastrous inning last month, as Wichita won 9-1 at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
"As long as we can all stay within ourselves," Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said.
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Guerra won for the second time in three starts since allowing seven runs in the third inning against Fort Worth on June 22.
After that inning, Guerra's ERA was 6.33. He began to lower it by allowing no runs in the final four innings of that game, then pitching eight shutout innings five days later against El Paso.
Guerra had a hiccup against Kansas City but returned to recent form Friday, when he allowed one Lincoln base runner into scoring position after the Saltdogs scored in the third.
Guerra has surrendered five earned runs in his last 25 innings, lowering his ERA to 4.66.
"He's been pretty good. Real good," Hooper said. "I don't know what's clicked, but that's what he's capable of doing, to me, is just throwing strikes. Trusting your stuff, pounding the (strike) zone."
Guerra likely missed a chance for his first complete game by laboring through the first three innings. He went to three-ball counts on four of the first five hitters and threw 58 pitches to get his first nine outs.
"Even tonight he got in some trouble where he's not throwing strike one," Hooper said. "Strike one, as a hitter, changes the whole dynamic of the at-bat."
The Saltdogs scored in the third on two singles and a hit batter, keeping a one-out threat alive with runners on first and third. Foreshadowing how his night would end, Guerra struck out the final two batters and preventing the big inning that has plagued him at times.
Guerra's escape act allowed the Wingnuts to flourish at the plate. Jose Duran started Wichita toward a five-run third by legging out an infield single, and the next two batters reached to load the bases.
After Brent Clevlen struck out, Juan Richardson was hit by a pitch to drive in a run, then Delgado and Josh Workman provided consecutive two-RBI hits to break it open.
"We have a very good team and everybody wants to win," Delgado said. "I think sometimes everybody feels a little pressure. It's just battling."
Guerra found little trouble after the third. If his high pitch count during the first third of the game kept him from completing it, the ease with which he got through the next five innings allowed him to last as long as he did.
In innings four through eight, Guerra threw 48 pitches, raising his total to 106. After a one-out double by former Wingnuts outfielder Blake Gailen in the eighth, Guerra struck out the final two batters he faced on seven total pitches.
"He's been tremendous," Hooper said. "Him and (catcher Edwin Bellorin) have done a tremendous job the last three times out just working with each other."
The Wingnuts added four runs in the sixth with the help of three walks by reliever Sean Potter. The last one loaded the bases and brought Jordan Stern in to face Delgado. On Stern's second pitch, Delgado lined a double to right-center, clearing the bases.
"That's what he's capable of doing right there," Hooper said. "(He's successful when he) stays within himself, keeps his hands inside the ball and goes the other way. He gets in trouble when he tries to hit the ball out of the park."
Gailen cf3120Conroy lf-cf5110
Dickey lf3000Patterson rf4110
Hawke 1b3011Clevlen cf4111
Howell c4000Fitzgerald ph-lf1000
Cortes rf4010Richardson 3b3221
Jones 3b4010Delgado 1b3125
Alvarez dh4010Workman dh4022
Ramos 2b3000Bellorin c3000
Albitz ss3000Powell c0000
Lincoln001 000 000 — 1 Wichita005 004 00x — 9
DP—Lincoln 3, Wichita 1. LOB—Lincoln 6, Wichita 7. 2B—Gailen (18), Cortes (13), Delgado (19), Workman (21). SB—Gailen (10). CS—Gailen (7).
Garcia L, 1-1595513
Guerra W, 3-2851117
HBP—by Garcia (Delgado, Richardson, Bellorin); by Guerra (Dickey, Gailen). Umpires—Home, Trent Delmont; First, Tony Senia; Third, Danny Hymel. T—2:39. A—3,125.