Wingnuts backup catcher Jeff Stevens was assured by his brother before the resumption of a suspended game Saturday that Stevens would get an important hit.
It might be difficult to give Stevens' brother credit for that prediction because technically, Saturday was still Friday.
The Wingnuts' game against El Paso was suspended after 14 innings late Friday because of the American Association curfew rule. The teams resumed their game on Saturday and Stevens drove in the game-winning run with a bases-loaded single in the 15th, giving the Wingnuts a 9-8 victory.
The Wingnuts also won Saturday's regularly scheduled game 8-5 behind seven solid innings from starting pitcher Junior Guerra.
"You're always ready for anything," Stevens said of the suspended game. "I don't think anyone expected to go as long as it did, but that's just the game. Sometimes it happens. We were able to get through it."
Stevens had played sparingly behind starter Edwin Bellorin and hadn't yet collected a hit before his Saturday at-bat.
After Bellorin was removed for a pinch-runner late Friday, Stevens replaced him. Stevens didn't get a plate appearance until Saturday night, and it came with the bases loaded and one out in an 8-8 tie.
El Paso reliever Alfredo Caballero walked the bases loaded, and a visit by pitching coach Andy Torres gave Stevens a hint into Caballero's strategy — throw a fastball and get ahead in the count.
Stevens was waiting, lining Caballero's first pitch to the gap in left-center. The hit might have cleared the bases if the game didn't end when the first runner crossed the plate.
"I knew he was just trying to get ahead," Stevens said. "I'm not usually a guess hitter, but if it wasn't a fastball, I wasn't going to swing. He laid it right there and I was able to make him pay."
The teams traded runs in the 14th before the game was suspended and seemed on their way to doing it again when Ryan Patterson answered El Paso's run in the 15th with a solo home run to start the bottom half.
The Wingnuts' rally happened mostly because of Caballero's control issues, but Patterson's home run gave them a renewed energy and a confidence they could score once more.
"He hits that solo home run to tie it up, and with nobody out you're going to give yourself a good chance to get a couple guys on base," Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said.
Just as responsible for the win was Nick Singleton, the Wingnuts' ace who relieved in the 15th with the bases loaded and one out after El Paso took the lead. Singleton retired the two batters he faced with no damage done to pick up his third win.
With a depleted bullpen, the Wingnuts needed an efficient performance from Guerra in the scheduled game. He gave them one.
After allowing a home run in the second and a triple in the third, Guerra didn't surrender another hit until an infield single with two outs in the sixth. He became the first Wingnuts starter to pitch into the seventh inning, and he allowed one run on four hits.
"Tremendous job, Junior Guerra," Hooper said. "You know how the pitching has been for us — it's been a struggle. We've been wearing the bullpen out, but we've battled through it."
El Paso's pitching staff was just as fatigued but it got no help from Josh Blanco, who lasted two innings. The Wingnuts scored six in the second, helped by six walks and two-run singles by Jorge Delgado and Josh Horn. Blanco threw 54 pitches in the inning.
"We knew we were going to have to go up there and hack," Horn said. "We weren't trying to draw any walks, that's for sure. The walks we got, those pitches weren't even close."
Completion of Friday's suspended game
Machado 2b 6332Horn ss7111
Ponce ss6101Patterson cf8321
Gabriel lf8112Cortes rf7220
Nichols 1b7132Richardson 3b6131
Mejia c7031Delgado 1b 4012
Avila dh4000Workman dh6110
Medina pr0000Bellorin c 4032
Deleo ph2000Button pr0000
Douglas rf7120Stevens c1011
Parra 3b5120Conroy lf6000
Drew cf6010Fitzgerald 2b7110
El Paso200 210 100 000 011 — 8 Wichita101 001 003 000 012 — 9
E—Ponce (3), Delgado 2 (4). DP—El Paso 3, Wichita 1. LOB—El Paso 14, Wichita 18. 2B—Mejia (2), Cortes (1), Delgado (4), Bellorin (2), Fitzgerald (2). 3B—Richardson (2). HR—Machado (1), Gabriel (1), Nichols (2), Patterson (1). SB—Machado (3), Douglas (4), Horn (3), Patterson 2 (5), Workman (1). CS—Douglas (1). S—Parra.
Crespo 3 1/32113 4
Caballero L, 1-1122230
Lare68 5 514
Howard 1 1/322222
Singleton W, 3-0 2/300001
HBP—By Lare (Ponce); by Howard (Parra); by Howard (Drew). Umpires—Home, Rich Grassa; First, Derek Moos; Third, Lance Schoenwald. Time—5:22. A—3,246.
Machado 2b 4010Horn ss5132
Douglas rf5110Patterson cf4011
Gabriel lf4022Cortes rf4100
Nichols 1b4010Richardson 3b4111
Mejia c3000Delgado 1b3112
Avila dh4232Workman dh2110
Ponce ss4000Bellorin c 3111
Parra 3b3110Conroy lf3100
Drew cf4100Button 2b 2100
El Paso010 000 022 — 5 Wichita060 110 00x — 8
E—Cortes (1). DP—El Paso 1, Wichita 1. LOB—El Paso 6, Wichita 8. 2B—Douglas (4), Horn (2), Patterson (4), Delgado (5), Workman (1), Bellorin (3). 3B—Machado (2). HR—Avila 2 (4). SB—Delgado (1). SF—Patterson (2).
Blanco L, 0-1256662
Guerra W, 1-0741113
HBP—By Medina (Delgado). WP—Mathes (3). Umpires—Home, Derek Moos; First base, Lance Schoenwald; Third base, Rich Grassa. Time—2:37. A—3,151.