Relentless Wingnuts beat Lincoln 15-10

League-leading Wingnuts remain on the attack

08/19/2014 11:11 PM

08/20/2014 7:37 AM

Wichita’s once-again new-look offense got a lot of chances to make a difference on Tuesday night.

On a night in which they added reigning American Association batting champion Abel Nieves, who hit .357 for them in 2013, the Wingnuts frequently responded to Lincoln rallies in a 15-10 win at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.

The Wingnuts answered a three-run Lincoln first by scoring six in the bottom half. They extended a slim lead with single runs in the fifth and sixth innings, and retook the lead they lost for a half-inning by scoring four in the seventh.

Wichita has clinched a playoff berth and is no more than seven wins away from clinching the division.

“Everyone, we know, who comes in here is going to be able to play and fit with us well,” said Wingnuts designated hitter Carlo Testa, who homered in the fifth inning. “You can’t really see it on the baseball field, but in the clubhouse and how we handle each other in the dugout, you just bring someone in and it’s an immediate fit. It’s just instant.”

The move for Nieves was necessitated by a season-ending injury to All-Star second baseman Jake Kahaulelio, but it illustrated the aggressiveness with which Wichita is approaching the postseason.

Even with its closest pursuer barely in the rearview mirror at 8 1⁄2 games back, the Wingnuts have constantly looked to improve what has been the league’s best roster over the season’s three months.

“We’ve got to get things set up here,” Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. “We’ve got 13 (games) left to kind of figure things out and get a rhythm of what we want to do. Obviously, we’re going to have a couple more additions eventually and try to get it right going in (to the playoffs).”

They’ve recently added former Triple-A slugger David Espinosa and versatile left-handed hitter Jared McDonald, while less planned circumstances have forced a shift in the bullpen.

Closer Matt Nevarez was sold to the Pittsburgh Pirates organization last week, moving left-hander Alex Hinshaw into the ninth inning. But Hinshaw was traded to Grand Prairie on Tuesday for Nieves, and now Wichita is looking to address an incomplete relief corps.

“Hinshaw has been here all year and it’s sad to see him go,” Testa said. “But whatever they think is best for the team, that’s their call. It’s a tough decision to let go of someone like Hinshaw, or to let go of the players that we have to bring in new players, but they know what it’s going to take to win a championship.”

The acquisition of Nieves produced immediate dividends Tuesday.

After Wingnuts starter Frank Del Valle labored through a 27-pitch first inning, Lincoln’s Marquis Fleming needed 36 pitches to record his first three outs. Nieves hit the first of three Wichita doubles in the first, driving in two runs to put the Wingnuts ahead 5-3.

The bullpen that initially survived Nevarez’s departure showed holes on Tuesday, when setup man Daniel Bennett allowed a walk and a single before Jon Gaston’s three-run homer gave Lincoln a 9-8 lead, its first since its opening at-bat.

But the Wingnuts took over from there, scoring seven runs over the seventh and eighth innings. They totaled eight extra-base hits, including seven doubles, to survive the shaky relief.

“It’s a grinder, I think that’s the best word for that,” Hooper said. “We didn’t pitch well, though. It’s disappointing.… We answered. We answered throughout the game. We never quit. We gave up the lead, then come back with four the next inning and add on another three. Impressive.”

Lincoln

Wichita

ab

r

h

bi

ab

r

h

bi

Mozingo dh

4

2

1

0

Khoury ss

5

3

1

0

Nunez 2b

5

2

3

0

Luce lf

4

2

2

1

Gaston cf

5

2

2

4

Espinosa 1b

5

1

3

2

Gac 1b

4

1

0

0

Clevlen cf

5

1

2

2

Joynt rf

5

1

2

3

Nieves 2b

5

2

2

2

Forgatch lf

3

1

2

0

Testa dh

4

4

3

2

Luna 3b

3

1

1

1

McMurray c

4

0

0

0

Gilmartin ss

2

0

2

0

McClndn 3b

5

2

3

4

Smith c

3

0

1

1

McDonald rf

4

0

1

1

Totals

34

10

14

9

Totals

41

15

17

14

Lincoln

302

001

310

10 14 1

Wichita

600

011

43x

15 17 0

E — Nunez (8). DP — Wichita 4. LOB — Lincoln 4, Wichita 8. 2B — Gaston (11), Joynt (23), Khoury (23), Testa (23), Luce (8), McClendon 2 (14), McDonald (8), Nieves (1). 3B — Forgatch (3), Joynt (3). HR — Gaston (11), Testa (9). SF — Luna (2). SB — Testa (22). CS — Forgatch (3).

Lincoln

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Fleming

6

10

8

8

4

7

Montoya L,3-2

2/3

2

4

4

2

0

Kuks

1 1/3

5

3

3

0

0

Wichita

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Del Valle

6

10

6

6

3

2

Bennett

1

2

3

3

1

1

Zouzalik W,4-0

1

2

1

1

1

0

Link

1

0

0

0

0

2

WP — Del Valle (3). HBP — Gilmartin (by Del Valle). Umpires — home, Mayhue Edwards; first, Darius Ghani; third, Harrison Silverman. T — 3:18. A — 1,907.

Lincoln at Wingnuts

When: 7:05 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Lawrence-Dumont Stadium

Records: Lincoln 46-41, Wingnuts 61-26

Pitchers: Lincoln, TBA; Wingnuts, LH Anthony Capra (5-2, 2.38)

Radio: KWME, 92.7-FM

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