Wingnuts’ bats overcome poor pitching in 20-12 victory over Lincoln

Wingnuts survive Saltdogs’ nine-run inning

08/20/2014 11:13 PM

08/21/2014 6:11 AM

After clinching a postseason berth Tuesday night, the Wingnuts can best be judged by how they’re built for the playoffs.

The last two games have perhaps revealed a path toward their first American Association championship: If the pitching lags, the offense will pick up the slack.

For the second straight night, Wichita survived a slugfest with Lincoln, winning 20-12 at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium behind four innings of at least three runs.

The Wingnuts answered Lincoln’s nine-run fifth, during which two Wichita pitchers combined for 68 pitches, with five runs in the bottom half to retake the lead. Then they added four in the eighth to make the outcome more lopsided than it once appeared.

“I want to do what we do on that (mound) right there,” Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. “That sets the tone. I don’t like chasing runs, that’s for sure.”

Every Wichita starter had at least one of the Wingnuts’ 21 hits – Brent Clevlen and Chris McClendon had four apiece and Ryan Khoury drove in four runs.

Tuesday, the Wingnuts won 15-10 while starting a pitcher, left-hander Frank Del Valle, who may not crack the postseason rotation. Wednesday starter Anthony Capra is firmly in the Wingnuts’ plans, though, and he didn’t fare any better.

Capra has often been able to minimize control issues with strikeouts and a lack of hits allowed, but Wednesday his eight strikeouts weren’t enough to offset eight walks in 4 2/3 innings.

Capra walked the Nos. 7-9 hitters in consecutive innings. In the fourth, he eluded trouble with a strikeout and a double play that got him out of the inning with no runs. In the fifth, the three walks came after he had allowed two doubles, and his two strikeouts only allowed him to approach similar good fortunes.

Capra didn’t survive the walks, the third of which drove in a run and signaled his exit. But Jared Gaynor walked the first batter he faced, then allowed an RBI single, a two-run single and a three-run homer that put the Saltdogs ahead 11-7.

“What a game, that was just crazy,” Hooper said. “Walks killed us. We gave up a nine spot and win. You don’t find that very often.”

The Wingnuts trailed in the middle innings Tuesday, too, and erased the deficit within a half inning. The same story was told Wednesday, as Wichita took advantage of an error to build a modest inning into a game-changing one.

With two outs, David Espinosa’s triple cut Lincoln’s lead to 11-10, and Wichita got the lead when the next batter, Clevlen, launched his team-best 17th homer.

The Wingnuts continued the onslaught with four more runs in the sixth, highlighted by Khoury’s 12th home run, a three-run shot that established a career high.

Wichita needed just about all of those runs because of a pitching staff that seems to have regressed over the past two days. The Wingnuts have especially hurt in the bullpen, because they’ve needed multiple relief innings over the last three days and are pitching short after trading Alex Hinshaw.

A short bullpen has meant relief appearances by starters Jon Link and Jason Van Skike over the past two days. Both worked scoreless innings, stabilizing a shaky situation, but the rest of the Wingnuts’ bullpen hasn’t found as much success.

Part of those failures have been due to Lincoln’s impressive lineup, especially its middle three hitters – Jon Gaston, Ian Gac and Brian Joynt – who combined for six extra-base hits, including two homers, on Tuesday.

But the Saltdogs’ 21 runs over the last two games in the series wasn’t enough to stop a Wichita winning streak that reached six games as they swept a homestand from Grand Prairie and Lincoln.

“Commend the guys,” Hooper said. “It’s a good group. We never give in, we never give up, and we put together good at-bats. That’s what we preach. It was good to see them stick with it. Those games are going to happen where you’re going to get drubbed, get tired from standing out there and it turns into a bad situation. We just didn’t stop.”

Lincoln

Wichita

ab

r

h

bi

ab

r

h

bi

Forgatch lf

4

2

0

1

Khoury ss

6

1

1

4

Nunez 2b

5

2

2

2

Luce lf

5

2

1

0

Gaston cf

5

2

2

3

Espinsa 1b

3

2

2

3

Gac dh

5

2

4

3

Clevlen cf

5

2

4

2

Joynt rf

5

1

2

2

Nieves 2b

5

2

3

1

Gilmrtn ss

5

0

2

0

Testa dh

6

2

2

1

Luna 3b

3

1

0

0

McClndn 3b

4

4

4

2

Hamiltn 1b

3

1

0

0

Dean c

4

3

3

3

Andersn c

2

1

0

1

McDnld rf

5

2

2

2

Totals

37

12

12

12

Totals

43

20

22

18

Lincoln

200

090

010

12

Wichita

030

454

04x

20

DP – Wichita 2, Lincoln 1. LOB — Lincoln 7, Wichita 11. 2B – Nunez (17), Gac 2 (23), Joynt (24), Clevlen (29), Testa (24), McClendon 2 (16), Dean (2). 3B – Espinosa (14), McDonald (3). HR – Gaston (12), Gac (20), Khoury (12), Clevlen (17). SF – Khoury (3), Espinosa (6). S – Dean. SB – Nunez (9), Luce 2 (7), Nieves (2), McClendon (18).

Lincoln

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Green

4 2/3

12

12

12

5

3

Barham L, 2-1

1 1/3

5

4

4

1

0

Montoya

1

2

0

0

0

1

Schuler

1

3

4

4

3

1

Wichita

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Capra

4 2/3

6

7

7

8

8

Gaynor

1/3

3

4

4

1

1

Van Skike W, 11-4

1

1

0

0

0

1

Robertson

2

2

1

1

0

0

Zouzalik

1

0

0

0

0

1

WP – Schuler (11). Umpires — Home, Darius Ghani; 1B, Harrison Silverman; 3B, Mayhue Edwards.

T – 3:45. A – 2,082.

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