Rarely have three weakly-hit balls had such a powerful effect.
The Wingnuts lost 9-6 on Saturday night to Gary-Southshore, and Gary’s three-run first inning was fueled by three consecutive infield singles to start the game.
Wichita starter Ryan Hinson minimized the damage by retiring the next three hitters — the Railcats scored three runs in the process — but it appeared that his bad fortune affected him mentally as his outing continued.
The Wingnuts nearly bailed him out, scoring three runs in the seventh to cut a five-run deficit to 8-6, but after Jared McDonald was stranded at third, Wichita didn’t score in the final two innings and Gary plated a run in the ninth.
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The start of the game was delayed about 50 minutes by rain.
Hinson has admitted to letting events out of his control get to him in the past, and that seemed to be the case on Saturday. After one borderline pitch, he asked plate umpire Justin Alexander where the pitch was in relation to the strike zone.
It wasn’t an exhibition of temper by any stretch, but it was a display of emotion — however minor — that Hinson rarely shows on the mound. The Wingnuts left-hander finished his start effectively, but the early innings were filled with Gary playing station-to-station baseball.
The Railcats had 12 hits against Hinson but none of them went for extra bases. Gary’s lineup is stacked with hitters with little power but with the ability to work deep in counts and use their contact-hitting skills to give pitchers trouble.
Gary didn’t have a hit to the outfield until the fourth inning, but by that time it had scored four runs. It added more in the fourth with a more consistent attack but not a powerful one.
Hinson surrendered five straight hits to start the fourth and six overall in the inning. Gary’s fourth infield single loaded the bases with no outs, and the two hits that immediately followed, by Chase Tucker and Adam Klein, drove in three combined runs.
Brian Kolb singled to bring home Gary’s final run of the inning and the final run against Hinson. He completed seven innings and faced the minimum over the final 3 2/3, retiring nine of the final eleven he opposed.
The Wingnuts chipped away at the early deficit but could never completely erase it. After the Railcats’ powerless first inning, the Wingnuts scored a run in the first without a hit, drawing a walk and a hit-by-pitch before Greg Porter’s sacrifice fly.
Wichita scored in more traditional fashion in the second, using two hits to answer Gary’s run in the top half. David Peralta hit a leadoff single and was almost left on base, but Ryan Khoury drove him in with a double.
McDonald, who scored the Wingnuts’ sixth inning run after a one-out double, helped the Wingnuts nearly complete their rally, driving a two-run triple to the wall in right-center that scored a pair of runs and made it 8-6. Khoury followed with a popup to end the inning.
Shaky defense also played a part in Wichita’s poor start. C.J. Ziegler mishandled a groundball and Hinson was unable to pick up a bunt in front of the mound. Those plays were ruled infield hits, however, and the Wingnuts’ only early error didn’t result in a run. A late one by Nick Walters, however, allowed Gary to score an eighth-inning insurance run.
The Wingnuts can clinch a playoff spot today if they win and Kansas City loses. Wichita would clinch, at worst, an identical record to Kansas City’s and Gary’s, but the Wingnuts hold the tiebreaker against each team and would earn the postseason berth.
|Klein rf||3||1||2||3||Khoury ss||5||0||2||1|
|Massaro cf||4||1||1||1||Kahaulelio 2b||1||1||0||1|
|Kolb 1b||5||1||2||1||Rodriguez dh||4||0||0||0|
|Babineau c||5||0||0||1||Ziegler 1b||4||0||2||0|
|Rohde dh||4||0||0||1||Porter lf||4||1||2||1|
|Suttle lf||4||1||2||0||Batista 3b||5||0||1||0|
|Carrara 3b||4||1||1||0||Peralta rf||4||2||1||0|
|Cooper ss||3||2||1||0||Mier c||5||1||2||1|
E—Khoury (12), Walters (2). LOB—Gary 4, Wichita 12. DP— Wichita 2. 2B— Khoury 2 (18), Ziergler (15), Porter (15), Batista (5), McDonald (11). 3B—McDonald (4). SF — Klein, Massaro, Kahaulelio, Porter. SB — Peralta (22), Mier (2). CS —Tucker. .
|Hisock W,5-6||5 1/3||7||3||3||4||1|
Umpires — home, Justin Alexander; first, Dixon Stureman; third, Mike O’Leary. T — 3:14. A — 2,472.