Wichita Wingnuts

Wingnuts’ first home game of the season is halted after 14 innings

Wingnuts' pitcher Trent Lare goes to work against El Paso in the 1st inning Friday night at LD Stadium. (May 20, 2011)
Wingnuts' pitcher Trent Lare goes to work against El Paso in the 1st inning Friday night at LD Stadium. (May 20, 2011) The Wichita Eagle

In the first eight innings and the extra innings of Friday's home opener against El Paso, the Wingnuts were often within one hit of completing a rally to tie or take the lead.

The Wingnuts didn't succeed in those situations, but they'll get another chance today. Friday's game was suspended with the teams deadlocked 7-7. The game will be resumed at 6 tomorrow night before the scheduled game at 7 p.m.

American Association rules state no inning can begin after midnight.

Both teams scored in the 14th, and Wingnuts shortstop Josh Horn grounded into a double play with two runners on. That ended the night, as both managers and the umpires met near the pitchers mound and agreed to suspend the game after a brief discussion.

The Lawrence-Dumont Stadium opener drew 3,246 fans. Not all of them remained to see an outcome, but even the ones who stayed didn't witness that, either.

After the Wingnuts left runners in scoring position in the sixth and eighth innings, the ineffectiveness of El Paso Scott Vander Weg gave them another chance.

Thomas Fitzgerald, who fouled out with runners at second and third to end the top of the sixth, doubled off the glove of right fielder Stephen Douglas to start the bottom of the ninth, moving to third on an opposite-field hit by Josh Horn and scoring on Ryan Patterson's single.

Vander Weg bought some time by retiring Jorge Cortes on a foulout, but that at-bat still did damage to the El Paso because during it the Wingnuts executed a double steal, moving Horn to third and Patterson to second. Horn overslid the base but it was ruled that third baseman Martin Parra failed to re-apply the tag.

Vander Weg pitched around Wichita cleanup hitter Juan Richardson, walking him on five pitches to load the bases. That left no room for error, and the Wingnuts made it 6-5 when the next batter, Jorge Delgado, also walked.

A strikeout of Josh Workman left the game in the hands of catcher Edwin Bellorin. Vander Weg's wildness continued, and Bellorin didn't need to take the bat off his shoulder in drawing a five-pitch walk that tied the score.

Extra innings were necessary after Mike Conroy grounded out to first, as Kyle Nichols made the play unassisted and beat Conroy by a step.

Conroy had another chance in the 11th.

Juan Richardson reached on a one-out infield single in the bottom of the 11th. Two walks allowed the Wingnuts to load the bases with two outs, and Conroy worked a 2-2 count before lining out to Nichols.

But Conroy prolonged the game with a diving catch for the third out in the top of the 12th, robbing Gerardo Avila of a hit to left and keeping Manuel Mejia stranded at second base. Mejia got into scoring position on a one-out throwing error by Richardson at third.

El Paso led 5-2 and 6-3, scoring five runs against Wingnuts starter Trent Lare. The Diablos hit three home runs off Lare, accounting for all their runs against him. Chad Gabriel and Albenis Machado each hit two-run homers against Lare, and Nichols added a solo shot.

The Wingnuts tried to chip away but came up short in key chances. The most crucial, before the ninth inning, was in the sixth, when Richardson led off with a triple. He scored, but Bellorin's double put runners on second and third with one out and the Wingnuts didn't add another run.

El Paso batters struck out 21 times, including 17 in eight innings against Wingnuts relievers.

Related stories from Wichita Eagle