Wingnuts hit 60 wins

Wichita pads division lead against Lincoln

08/18/2014 11:05 PM

08/19/2014 9:10 AM

The Wingnuts have held a comfortable lead in the American Association South for several weeks, so competition has become a more personal endeavor.

Wichita players are competing with themselves to stay sharp as some transition to new roles, and occasionally with their teammates to earn playing time for the postseason push.

Two Wingnuts who have shined under such circumstances, right-handed pitcher Jason Van Skike and infielder Taylor Oldham, led Wichita to a 6-2 win over Lincoln Monday night at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.

Laredo, despite a 10-game winning streak, trails the Wingnuts (60-26) by 7 ½ games in the South. Wichita is 5-2 without All-Star second baseman Jake Kahaulelio, whose thumb injury was determined Monday to be season-ending.

“Everyone comes to work and everyone is a great competitor,” Oldham said. “You don’t get to this level without being a competitor and wanting to be the best at what you do. It’s definitely been a great team all year, and everybody really preaches that – compete, compete, compete.”

Oldham was slotted as the Wingnuts’ utility player at the beginning of the season, someone who plays every position but may only receive one or two starts a week. Earlier roster shuffling and, now, Kahaulelio’s injury, have forced Oldham into extended duty, which he has handled capably.

A second-inning single drove in two runs to make it 3-0, and Oldham added a third RBI with an infield hit in the sixth.

His .276 batting average may not compare favorably to Kahaulelio’s .327, but Oldham has hit in eight of the last nine games in which he’s earned more than one at-bat, including seven in a row, to raise his average 31 points.

“I really don’t think you can ever replace Jake,” Oldham said. “We’re just doing our best to fill in there. I’m always ready to play, that’s been my role all year, so wherever they need me. It’s been a blessing to have some good games and (manager Kevin Hooper) prepares all of us really well.”

Oldham has virtually equaled Kahaulelio defensively, especially after the brief period it took to gain rhythm with double-play partner Ryan Khoury. Oldham has made difficult plays look routine and has been smooth on double plays, helping the Wingnuts escape a miniature jam with one in the seventh on Monday.

“Saving runs is almost as important, or more important, than (scoring) them,” Oldham said. “That’s definitely something I try to work on every day, and (Hooper) is working with me, too – that was one of his skills. Ryan and Jake are always in my ear, helping me out. I’m definitely not alone there.”

Van Skike started the season in the bullpen but has been one of the Wingnuts’ best starters, earning his 10th win on Monday to join teammate Jon Link (11 wins) in double digits.

The only run against Van Skike came on a leadoff homer by Jon Gaston in the sixth, when he worked around a one-out double to finish his outing after 91 pitches.

While Van Skike’s rotation spot is secure, Anthony Capra’s return last week gave the Wingnuts six starters for five spots. Justin Klipp worked out of the bullpen on Monday, but he is receiving at least one more start and may be able to work his way back into the mix as the starter as Wichita’s pitchers embrace competition within the staff.

“It’s always fun, some friendly competition,” Hooper said. “…That’s what this game is all about, once you get your opportunity. That’s what I tell them – you never know when you’re going to get your opportunity, so you’ve got to be ready for it. It’s been a great year with that, guys taking advantage of their opportunities.”

Lincoln

Wichita

ab

r

h

bi

ab

r

h

bi

Mozingo dh

4

0

0

0

Khoury ss

3

0

0

0

Nunez 2b

4

0

0

0

Luce lf

4

1

2

0

Gaston cf

4

1

3

1

Espinosa 1b

4

1

2

0

Gac 1b

3

0

0

0

Clevlen cf

4

0

1

0

Joynt rf

3

0

1

0

Testa dh

4

2

2

0

Gilmartin ss

4

1

2

1

McMurray c

2

1

1

0

Forgatch lf

4

0

2

0

McClendon

4

0

1

0

Luna 3b

4

0

1

0

Oldham 2b

4

1

2

3

Anderson c

3

0

0

0

McDonald rf

2

0

0

1

Totals

33

2

9

2

Totals

31

6

11

4

Lincoln

000

001

001

2

Wichita

030

021

00x

6

E— Gac, Forgatch. DP— Lincoln 1, Wichita 1. LOB— Lincoln 8, Wichita 5. 2B— Joynt, Luce, Mcmurray. 3B — Testa. HR — Gaston, Gilmartin. SB — Forgatch, McClendon 2, Oldham. CS — Mozingo, Anderson. SF — McDonald.

Lincoln

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

McGovern L

7

9

6

3

3

6

Barham

1

2

0

0

0

2

Wichita

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Van Skike W

6

6

1

1

1

1

Robertson

1

1

0

0

0

1

Klipp

1 1/3

2

1

1

2

0

Hinshaw

2/3

0

0

0

0

1

WP — McGovern, Klipp. Umpires—Home, Harrison Silverman; first, Mayhue Edwards; third, Darius Ghani.

T— 2:43. A— 2,110.

Lincoln at Wingnuts

When: 7:05 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Lawrence-Dumont Stadium

Records: Lincoln 48-37, Wingnuts 59-26

Pitchers: Lincoln, RH Marquis Fleming (9-3, 3.21 ERA); Wingnuts, LH Frank Del Valle (0-1, 2.38)

Radio: KWME, 92.7-FM

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