The Wingnuts took the excitement out of their record-setting Monday night, setting a franchise record for runs in a 20-6 win over Laredo that was out-of-reach by the fourth inning.
A nine-run fourth put the Wingnuts ahead 16-0, and by that point almost every hitter had made a significant contribution to that total, a scoring binge that put Ryan Hinson’s latest shutdown start second on the marquee.
A 16-run lead doesn’t happen as a result of just one big inning, though, and Wichita started early against Laredo left-hander Greg Wilburn, who seemed to lose confidence as the Wingnuts built an early lead against him.
“You just take advantage of it when you can,” Wingnuts first baseman C.J. Ziegler said. “It was just one of those nights where everything is rolling for you. No matter what you do, you can do no wrong. It was what we needed.”
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Wilburn walked the first two batters, then began to find too much of the strike zone. After an RBI groundout by John Rodriguez, Ziegler hit the first of his two home runs and accounted for a pair of his seven RBIs.
Ziegler launched a first-pitch fastball over the left-field wall.
On the next pitch, Brent Clevlen made it 4-0 with the first of his two homers, sending a ball high off the batter’s eye in center field.
The Wingnuts, in splitting a four-game series at Sioux City over the weekend, built early leads only to see them evaporate when they couldn’t build on them. That wasn’t a problem on Monday.
“We actually sat down today and had a good little hitters’ meeting,” Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. “Just huddled up for about 45, minutes, actually. Just an open forum-type thing, talked about some situational things. Boy, we might do that again tomorrow.”
Ziegler’s two-run single was the big hit in a three-run second in which another run scored on a wild pitch. Wichita couldn’t capitalize on Colt Loehrs’ double to start the third, but that slight transgression was made obsolete in the fourth.
Wichita sent 14 batters to the plate in the inning and went through a pair of pitchers, including reliever Edwin Walker, who combined to throw 68 pitches. The Wingnuts batters did most of the work but forced Walker and Wilborn to do some, too, as Wichita drew three of its seven walks in the fourth.
Mostly, though, the inning was about hits — not cheap ones, either. Ziegler’s second homer didn’t go as far as his first but was just as much of a no-doubter while bringing home three runs.
Clevlen, who finished with five RBIs, drove in a run with a single. John Rodriguez, Abel Nieves and Ryan Khoury all had RBI doubles — Khoury’s unloaded the bases and was responsible for 75 percent of his four RBIs.
The top six hitters in Wichita’s order combined to go 13 for 23 with four homers, 16 runs and 19 RBIs. Their production wasn’t helped much from the bottom of the order, except from Colt Loehrs, who had three doubles among his four hits.
“All it does is really put the pressure on them, especially with runners on,” Ziegler said of Wichita’s patient-but-aggressive approach. “We know, in the middle of our lineup, that they don’t want to make a mistake with us. So we need to take what’s given. We all trust each other to know that we’re going to pick each other up no matter what.”
Hinson had to endure about an hour-long wait before going back out for the fifth, and when Clevlen’s second homer capped a three-run sixth, Hinson’s night was over. He improved to 6-1 with a 2.01 ERA.
“Tough night,” Hooper said. “He felt like he threw nine innings. The bullpen had some issues there, but it’s pretty fortunate when you have a 20-run lead.”
|Mojica ss||5||0||0||0||Khoury ss||4||3||2||4|
|Sheridan 1b||5||0||1||0||Nieves 2b||4||4||2||1|
|Allen lf||4||1||3||0||Rodriguez dh||5||4||3||2|
|Carroll cf||4||0||0||0||Ziegler 1b||4||3||3||7|
|Karr dh||5||1||1||1||Clevlen cf||6||2||3||5|
|Gaston rf||3||2||1||0||Armstrong c||3||1||0||0|
|Kain 3b||4||2||3||0||Dalrymple c/ph||2||0||0||0|
|Rau 2b||3||0||0||1||Loehrs 3b||5||2||4||0|
|Buechele c||3||0||1||3||Amberson rf||4||1||0||0|
|Laredo||000||000||330||—||6 10 2|
|Wichita||430||913||00x||—||20 17 1|
E— Kain 2 (4), Loehrs (2). LOB— Laredo 8, Wichita 7. 2B— Allen (14), Gaston (10), Kain (7), Buechele (2), Khoury (8), Nieves 2 (11), Rodriguez 2 (15), Loehrs 3 (7). HR – Karr (6), Ziegler 2 (15), Clevlen 2 (5). HBP – Carroll (2) by Hinson; Rau (1) by Aizenstadt; Buechele (2) by Aizenstadt; Khoury (8) by Wilborn; Ziegler (3) by Maj. SB – Khoury (6).
|Wilborn L, 0-1||3||8||10||10||4||1|
|Hinson W, 6-1||6||5||0||0||0||5|
HBP — Carroll by Hinson (1); Rau by Aizenstadt (1); Buechele by Aizenstadt (2); Khoury by Wilborn (2); Ziegler by Maj (4). WP — Wilborn 2 (2), Walker 2 (3), Mendoza (1), Aizenstadt 2 (2).Umpires—Home, Derek Ivinski; first, Art Thigpen; third, Brian Urton.
T— 3:26. A— 2748.