Wingnuts starting pitcher Anthony Capra found former Wichita State teammate Aaron Shafer near the first base dugout Sunday afternoon and the two ex-Shockers walked together toward their clubhouses before hugging goodbye.
The sentimentality between two pitchers who helped WSU reach super regionals in 2007 and ‘08 ended there, as Capra’s start for the Wingnuts was delayed by a day in favor of newcomer Dumas Garcia. His poor debut and Shafer’s early dominance for Fargo-Moorhead propelled the RedHawks to a 10-5 win at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
Shafer and Capra, who both have affiliated time but have struggled in the American Association, are working to get their careers resuscitated. Their numbers this season might have translated to a slugfest had they opposed on Sunday, but that likely would have carried more interest than seeing Fargo race to a 9-0 lead against Garcia through four innings.
“That would have been awesome,” Shafer said about a potential start against his friend and ex-teammate. “He’s trying to get back in shape, I know. He called me when he got released — we’ve kept in touch since college — and he told me he was thinking about coming here.
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“I told him that obviously (Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper) is a great guy to play for. I told him it was going to be hotter than it is in Fargo — I tried to get him to come with us. Hopefully he can get back in it for them and get back on track and maybe get himself picked up at the end of the year. But it would have been really neat.”
Shafer, who had designs on a successful career in affiliated baseball after an excellent career at Wichita State, after which he was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the second round in 2008. He made it to Double-A with the Braves organization last season but couldn’t stick, and he entered Sunday’s start with a 6.29 ERA in 12 starts.
Pitching in a place that the St. Louis native briefly called home reverted Shafer into the pitcher many Wichitans remember. Staked to the significant early lead, he carved through the Wingnuts’ order. _ Through five innings, Shafer threw 51 pitches and allowed one runner into scoring position.
“It’s always good to be back here,” Shafer said. “I get to run into a lot of people I haven’t seen in a long time. It’s always good to be back. It’s hot, just like I remember it. It just kind of brings you back — everyone is always asking questions about Wichita State and you get to show your teammates a little bit of what it’s about.”
Garcia proved no match for Shafer or for Fargo’s recently revamped lineup whose top six hitters are all difficult outs. Those six combined for 11 hits Sunday, but it was the top four, particularly third baseman Eric Campbell, who obliterated Garcia.
Campbell’s groundrule double in the first plated Fargo’s first two runs, and his second two-run double made it 6-0 in the second. The end of Garcia’s debut came on Campbell’s three-run homer in the fourth, which gave him seven RBIs on the day.
Fargo’s top four hitters — Zach Penprase, Buddy Sosnoski, Nic Jackson and Campbell — combined to go 8 for 9 with two doubles, a homer, eight runs, nine RBIs, three walks and six stolen bases. Sosnoski, a rookie, collected four hits.
“They made (Garcia) pay,” Hooper said. “Good teams are going to do that, so you tip your hat to them because they’re a good team, they’re experienced guys. ...Campbell, good god, what a series for them. He hits that ball (high in the strike zone) really well, and he made us pay for it.”
Shafer finally found trouble in the sixth, when Wichita’s Ryan Khoury hit a solo homer during Shafer’s 28-pitch inning. Wichita got closer in the seventh and eighth with four combined runs that made it 9-5. But Fargo added a run in the ninth off Edgar Martinez and the Wingnuts went mostly quietly in the ninth.
Wichita has lost 17 of 22 games after a 30-9 start and lost three out of four this weekend to the RedHawks, who appear to have taken Wichita’s former title of best team in the league.
“They found a way to get up and score nine runs early,” Khoury said. “The weather shouldn’t be any sort of factor because both teams have to play in it. ...We put together some decent at-bats, hit some balls hard that didn’t fall. Once you get down by that much you have to take it one at-bat at a time and not try to get it all back at one time.”
|Penprase ss||4||3||1||0||Khoury ss||4||2||2||3|
|Sosnoskie cf||5||3||4||1||Conroy cf||4||0||2||0|
|Jackson dh||3||1||1||1||Rodriguez dh||4||0||1||1|
|Campbell 3b||4||1||3||7||Perez 2b||5||0||0||0|
|Gaston lf||4||0||0||0||Peralta rf||3||0||2||0|
|Jennings lf||1||0||0||0||Wagner c||4||1||1||0|
|Delgado c||5||1||2||0||Avila 1b||3||1||1||1|
|Rodriguez 1b||3||0||0||0||Carrillo 3b||4||1||2||0|
|Stovall rf||5||0||1||1||McDonald lf||4||0||0||0|
LOB—Fargo 9, Wichita 8. DP—Fargo 2, Wichita 1. 2B—Sosnoskie (11), Campbell 2 (7), Delgado (21), Wagner (2), Avila (4), Carrillo 2 (7). HR—Campbell (2), Khoury (3).
Umpires — home, McCaffrey; first, Hoffman; second, Linton. T — 2:57. A — 1,002.