Wichita Wingnuts

Wingnuts come home all tied up

The Wingnuts’ T.J. Mittelstaedt, left, congratulates Leo Vargas after he scored a run in the sixth inning against Sioux Falls on July 17 at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
The Wingnuts’ T.J. Mittelstaedt, left, congratulates Leo Vargas after he scored a run in the sixth inning against Sioux Falls on July 17 at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. Correspondent

There is no clock in baseball, except for the one that drives Pete Rose Jr.’s managerial philosophy.

“Be on time and play the game the right way,” is a simple approach to what can be a complex game, but Rose can reduce the complexities by expecting only the basics from his players.

A low-key reaction to losing the first game of a playoff series may have helped the Wingnuts rebound to win the second. They return to Wichita tied with Sioux City 1-1 in a best-of-5 first-round American Association series, with Game 3 scheduled for Saturday night at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.

“It’s just from being around them so much, you kind of knew that they were going to come to play (in Game 2),” Rose said. “We didn’t hit yesterday on the field (before the game), and that usually kind of takes care of everything. …You knew they weren’t going to come and have a letdown and pack it in and fold.

“They did what they’ve done all year. We were on time and we played the game the right way. And we got key hits.”

The Wingnuts lost Game 1 in extra innings on the road after rallying from a 3-0 deficit but then losing a 5-3 lead. The following night in Sioux City, the Wingnuts left little room for such volatility.

They took a 6-0 lead after six turns at bat and ended their 9-3 with 16 hits and home runs from Brent Clevlen and Leo Vargas. Alex Boshers, the Wingnuts’ top regular-season pitcher, allowed two earned runs while six Wichita batters recorded multiple hits.

The Wingnuts return home needing to win two of three games to advance to the championship series.

“Anytime you go and win a game on the road, it’s an accomplishment,” Rose said. “We played all right in Game 1, we didn’t get the hits with runners in scoring position. We found a way to get it done (Thursday) night.

“…The luck went their way in Game 1, but we came out and played a complete game (Thursday) night. Everybody did their job. It was a good trip.”

The remaining three games of the series may come down to pitching depth. The Wingnuts’ has been tested lately because of injuries, unsettled roles and inconsistent performance.

Games 3 and 4 will be started by Jesse Pratt and Tyler Kane, who have combined for six wins for Wichita this season – Pratt was mostly a reliever. If the Wingnuts win one, they’ll turn to Game 1 starter Tim Brown for Game 5.

“They’re not going to let each other down,” Rose said of the Wingnuts. “I think that’s what the best thing about this journey has been. Those guys play for one another and they really love being around each other. You can’t teach that.”

Sioux City at Wingnuts

  • When: 7 p.m. Saturday
  • What: American Association playoffs, Game 3
  • Where: Lawrence-Dumont Stadium
  • Radio: KGSO, 1410-AM
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