The Wingnuts’ attempts to play for one or two runs during a Wednesday doubleheader were foiled by a lineup that wanted more.
A handful of bunts may have signaled a conservative approach by manager Kevin Hooper, but the middle of the Wingnuts’ order threw modesty out the window with a pair of big innings that led to a sweep of Grand Prairie, 6-2 and 6-4 in two seven-inning games at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
Wichita scored five in the fifth inning of the opener, then tallied four runs in the sixth to come from behind in Game 2. Ryan Khoury and J.T. Wise starred in both games, totaling three home runs, five RBIs and seven times on base.
Sacrifice bunts are, by definition, plays that end in outs. The Wingnuts tried two in the sixth inning of Game 2 but both batters reached base – Chris McMurray when Grand Prairie’s miscommunication afforded him a single, and Trevor Whyte on an error.
“You’re not necessarily trying to give away an out,” Wise said. “Good-placed bunts like that, the catcher happened to mishandle one. But they’re good-placed bunts and, you never know, you put a good bunt down and it can lead to more things like it did today.”
With the Wingnuts leading 1-0 in the fourth inning of the first game, Wise was asked to bunt with runners on first and second, even though he leads the team with nine home runs and 36 RBIs. Wise’s bunt led to a force out at third, and the next two batters struck out, leaving the Wingnuts with nothing.
The same scenario began to play out an inning later, when Carlo Testa’s bunt also enabled an out at third base. But Jake Kahaulelio smashed the small-ball approach with a double down the left-field line that scored two runs.
An RBI double two batters later extended the lead, and Wise’s home run to center capped the inning and made it 6-0. The ball didn’t seem destined for a homer off the bat, but Wise got enough air under it that it carried to the batter’s eye beyond the center-field wall.
“After I hit them, I run,” Wise said. “I don’t really know, to be honest. It felt good off the bat. It might have had a little wind under it. I didn’t know it was going to go that far, but it felt good off the bat.”
The Wingnuts’ big inning in Game 2 came when they trailed 4-2. Khoury’s second homer of the day and tied it 2-2 in the fifth, but Grand Prairie responded with two runs in the top of the sixth.
The first priority for the Wingnuts in the sixth was to tie it, so when David Amberson scored on Brent Clevlen’s double with no outs to make it 4-2, McMurray bunted to move Clevlen to third. But McMurray got on base, Wise delivered the tying run with a single, and the Wingnuts were still threatening.
The threat was realized on more poor Grand Prairie defense that helped Whyte reach base, then on a two-run double by Taylor Oldham. The mixture of bunts and big hits led to a late-inning rally, and one may have helped lead to the other.
“It’s just about picking each other up, like I talk about all the time,” Hooper said. “If we don’t get one down, it’s nice if the next guy picks us up. It happened to us a couple times today, then we laid two good ones down in the second game. That’s a good comeback right there.”
Khoury has been among the American Association’s leader in on-base percentage all season, but now he’s adding batting average to his hitting portfolio. He had four hits Tuesday, raising his average to .324, and hit homers in both game. In the first game, he reached base all four times and saw 25 pitches.
“I think he was perfect (in quality at-bats) the first game, then he came up with a huge home run in the second game,” Hooper said. “Showing some power as of late. His job is to get on base any way he can, and he does a great job of doing that.”
|Mojica ss||4||0||1||1||Khoury ss||3||2||3||1|
|Nunez 2b||4||0||0||0||Testa lf||3||1||0||0|
|A. Nieves 3b||2||0||0||0||Kahaulelio 2b||3||1||1||2|
|Botts lf||3||0||0||0||Clevlen cf||3||0||1||0|
|Hall rf||2||0||1||0||McMurray dh||2||1||1||1|
|Searle ph||0||1||0||0||Wise c||3||1||1||2|
|Rodriguez 1b||3||1||1||0||Whyte 1b||3||0||0||0|
|Myrow dh||2||0||1||0||Amberson rf||3||0||0||0|
|DiFazio c||2||0||0||0||McClendon 3b||3||0||1||0|
|Grand Prairie||000||000||2||—||2 4 0|
|Wichita||001||050||x||—||6 8 0|
LOB — Grand Prairie 6, Wichita 5. 2B – Mojica (10), Hall (7), Myrow (1), Kahaulelio (16), Clevlen (15), McMurray (10), McClendon (6). HR – Khoury (3), Wise (9). SB – Khoury (1).
|Bargas L, 2-5||5||7||6||6||3||3|
|Van Skike W, 4-1||5 2/3||3||0||0||1||3|
|Bennett S (1)||1||0||0||0||0||1|
Umpires—Home, Nick Gonzalez; 1B, Joey Stegner; 3B, Bobby Feaster.
T – 2:16.
|Mojica ss||4||1||2||0||Khoury ss||4||1||1||1|
|Nunez 2b||4||1||1||0||Testa lf||2||1||1||0|
|A. Nieves 3b||4||0||0||0||Kahaulelio 2b||2||0||1||0|
|Botts lf||1||0||0||1||Amberson rf||1||1||1||0|
|Hall rf||2||1||2||0||Clevlen cf||3||1||2||1|
|Rodriguez 1b||3||1||1||0||McMurray c||3||1||1||0|
|Myrow dh||3||0||1||2||Wise dh||3||1||1||1|
|Abeita c||3||0||0||0||Whyte 1b||2||0||0||0|
|Baker cf||3||0||0||0||Oldham 2b/rf||3||0||1||2|
|Grand Prairie||002||002||0||—||4 7 2|
|Wichita||100||014||x||—||6 9 0|
E – Botts (2), DiFazio (2). LOB — Grand Prairie 5, Wichita 4. 2B – Myrow (2), Clevlen (16), Oldham (5). HR – Khoury (4). S – Botts, Whyte. SB – Testa (12), Amberson (13).
|Harris L, 1-1||1||5||4||4||0||0|
|Mincey W, 1-1||2/3||0||0||0||0||0|
|Nevarez S (11)||1||0||0||0||0||0|
Umpires—Home, Joey Stegner; 1B, Bobby Feaster; 3B, Nick Gonzalez.
T – 2:18.