Edwin Bellorin's last two games are a perfect example of how run prevention is often just as important as the eye-popping statistics that help teams score.
The Wingnuts catcher hit two solo home runs Friday, one of which tied the score in the bottom of the ninth before Wichita beat El Paso in extra innings.
Bellorin's contributions Saturday weren't at the plate but behind it. He threw out two base runners to keep El Paso from overtaking the Wingnuts, who held on for a 2-1 win at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
Bellorin still was an important figure offensively — he doubled to lead off the bottom of the fifth and scored the go-ahead run on Mike Conroy's sacrifice fly.
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"That's why he's so valuable," Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. "Defensively, he's something fun to watch. He takes a lot of pride in what he does and he cares. That's his go-to right there, his defense. Whatever he gives you offensively is going to be a bonus."
The Wingnuts matched El Paso's run in the third, and the Diablos were on their way to regaining the lead in the fourth, when they collected three straight singles to start the inning.
El Paso didn't scored because Nelson Teilon, who singled to start the fourth, was picked off when Bellorin threw behind him at second base. Teilon strayed too far off the base on his secondary lead and couldn't scamper back in time.
"We've got to do that more," Hooper said. "He can do that, and I think we need to back-pick more, maybe."
In the sixth, Johan Garcia reached on a one-out walk. He was erased when Bellorin caught him trying to steal.
Bellorin, who played briefly in the major leagues and has spent significant time in Triple-A has been vital to the Wingnuts even when he's not hitting.
He's slumped recently and is struggling to keep his average above .250, but he hardly lets it affect his defensive and pitch-calling abilities.
"Having a veteran guy like him behind the plate, he's not going to take his offense out there to play defense," Hooper said. "He takes too much pride in it to do that. (Friday) night was huge offensively and tonight was huge defensively."
Wichita's runs came mostly innocuously. Jose Duran stayed in the game after being hit by a pitch on the helmet, and he moved to third on a single and Josh Horn's sacrifice bunt before scoring on Brent Cleven's sacrifice fly for the first run.
Bellorin's double ignited the Wingnuts' fifth, and he scored two batters later when Conroy lined out to center for another sac fly.
The top third of the Wingnuts' order proved adept in small-ball situations. Conroy, Horn and Clevlen combined for four singles, two sacrifice flies and a sacrifice bunt.
"It's situational hitting," Clevlen said. "You've got a guy on third and less than two outs, you've got to get something in the air to the outfield. Conroy had a good at-bat where he got behind, then got back in the count and got a nice sac fly to center."
Derek Blacksher improved to 8-0 in his career at Lawrence-Dumont and won for the second time at home since being acquired in a trade with Fort Worth two weeks ago.
Blacksher often pitched out of trouble and El Paso left eight runners on base. But Bellorin's defense and Blacksher's own escapability kept the Diablos from scoring after the third inning.
Logan Hoch and Marcos Tabata combined to keep El Paso scoreless into the ninth. Alberto Espinosa led off the ninth with a double off closer Josh Dew, but pinch runner Martin Parra was stranded there after a flyout and two strikeouts. Dew got Kory Drew on a called third strike to end the game.
Douglas rf4021Conroy lf3011
Machado 2b4000Horn ss3010
Teilon dh4010Clevlen cf3021
Brito 1b3010Richardson 3b4010
Garcia 3b3010Delgado 1b4020
Parra pr0000Barrows rf4000
Joynt lf4010Bellorin c4110
Gonzalez ss4110Duran 2b2100
Drew cf2000Fitzgerald 2b0000
El Paso001 000 000 — 1 Wichita001 010 00x — 2
E—Espinosa (5). LOB—El Paso 8, Wichita 9. 2B—Espinosa (5), Delgado (23), Bellorin (16). SB—Gonzalez (9), Clevlen (1), Delgado (4). CS—Garcia (5). S—Drew (11), Horn (4). SF—Conroy (4), Clevlen (3).
Montano L, 0-37 1/392203
Blacksher W, 5-76 2/371123
Dew S, 13110002
HBP—By Montano (Duran).
Umpires—Home, Justin Post; First, Derrick Moos; Third, Joe Pascucci.