Wichita Wingnuts

Wingnuts beat Sioux City to reach American Association finals

Wingnuts pitcher Tyler Kane high-fives catcher Martin Medina after the top of the first inning Sunday at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
Wingnuts pitcher Tyler Kane high-fives catcher Martin Medina after the top of the first inning Sunday at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. Wichita Eagle

Martin Medina batted for the first time on Sunday night with an unclear future. There were seven more innings to play and the game was tied while carrying no predictive elements.

Much of what came after Medina’s at-bat was influenced by the Wingnuts’ catcher himself. He put Wichita ahead with an 11-pitch appearance that ended with an RBI single through the left side of the infield.

The Wingnuts never lost the lead and defeated Sioux City 10-5 at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in a decisive Game 4 of a first-round American Association playoff series. The series continues Thursday at Winnipeg. The Wingnuts play at home on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, if necessary, with all games at 7:05 p.m.

“It can be big, it can change the game a lot,” Wingnuts manager Pete Rose Jr. said. “We’ve been in situations where we didn’t get it done. We just kind of stay within ourselves, keep grinding, and it works out for us.”

Medina fell behind in the count 1-2 against Sioux City starter Reiner Roibal before fouling off three straight pitches. After taking ball two, Medina fouled off three more.

Medina didn’t connect solidly with Roibal’s next pitch, a breaking ball, but bounced it between shortstop and third base to score Matt Chavez with the tiebreaking run. It was the second long at-bat of the inning, after T.J. Mittelstaedt started Wichita’s second with a seven-pitch walk.

“We’ve been getting to their bullpen early and often,” Medina said. “That’s kind of the theme, that we can grind the starter down and get in the bullpen and be better off, especially if they’re hurting and throwing on short rest. At-bats like that … we kind of just pass to the next guy. That’s been the motto all year.”

The Wingnuts scored four in the second inning, not quite breaking the game open but limiting Roibal’s impact on it. He threw 50 pitches as the Wingnuts batted 10 and left the bases loaded. Roibal threw 76 pitches overall and was finished after the third inning.

The Wingnuts’ output can be surprising considering their conflicting approach. Rose commands aggressiveness by declining to call bunts or hit-and-run plays, but Wichita batters don’t take it to the extreme.

They’re happy with a station-to-station game that includes walks and singles, but those can quickly wear down pitchers and allow the Wingnuts to stretch leads like they did on Sunday.

Brent Clevlen hit a two-run home run in the fourth and Medina had an RBI single in the fifth. After Sioux City cut the lead to 7-5, T.J. Mittelstaedt tripled in two runs and scored on an eighth-inning error to put the game out of reach.

“Pete has a lot of feel,” Medina said. “…He’s not going to take the bat out of your hands. Yes, it’s baseball, and there are certain situations where you might drop (a bunt) down. But for the most part, yeah, we’re up there to swing and do some damage.”

Sioux City scored two in the sixth to make it 7-5 and the Wingnuts needed calm after starting pitcher Tyler Kane failed to escape the fifth inning and reliever Gage Smith allowed four hits and two runs while recording two outs.

They found it in Mike Devine, who struck out the side in the seventh inning on 10 pitches. Sioux City didn’t threaten again as Chad Nading and Frankie Reed each pitched a scoreless inning.

The Wingnuts high-fived on the mound, but there was no dog-pile and no champagne celebration in the clubhouse. It’s on to Round 2.

“I’m sure we may have a toast or something,” Rose said. “Our big goal is the next step. We’ll do it right if we get a chance to after this whole thing.”

Pete Rose Jr., whose father is Major League Baseball's all-time leader in hits, is the new manager for the Wichita Wingnuts. Rose was introduced during a news conference at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium on Wednesday. (Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle/Feb

Sioux City

ab

r

h

bi

Wichita

ab

r

h

bi

Rbnsn lf

5

1

4

2

Strgr 2b

4

1

2

1

Lang rf

5

0

1

0

Cox 3b

4

1

2

0

Samson ss

4

0

4

1

Clvln dh

4

2

2

2

Wshtn dh

5

0

0

0

Mttlsdt lf

4

2

1

2

Clwell cf

4

1

1

0

Chavz 1b

3

1

0

0

Hnrqz c

3

0

0

0

VnStrttn rf

3

0

1

0

Slttry c

1

0

0

0

Kain cf

5

2

3

1

Mndnca 3b

4

1

1

1

Medina c

4

1

2

2

Patron 1b

3

1

1

1

Vargas ss

4

0

0

0

Johns 2b

4

1

1

0

     

Totals

38

5

13

5

Totals

35

10

13

8

Sioux City

010

202

000

5

Wichita

040

210

03x

10

E — Samson, Colwell. LOB — Sioux City 10, Wichita 9. 2B — Robinson, Samson, Stringer, Kain. 3B — Mittelstaedt. HR — Mendonca, Clevlen. S — Van Stratten. SB — Mittelstaedt, Van Stratten, Kain. CS — Stringer.

Sioux City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Roibal L,0-1

3

5

4

4

3

3

Francescon

2

5

3

3

1

0

Wort

3

3

3

2

1

3

Wichita

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Kane

4.1

8

3

3

3

6

Smith

1.2

4

2

2

0

1

Devine W,1-0

1

0

0

0

0

3

Nading

1

1

0

0

0

1

Reed

1

0

0

0

1

1

WP — Francescon. PB — Henriquez. HBP — Clevlen by Roibal, VanStratten by Wort. T — 3:01. A — 1,020.

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