Wichita Wingnuts

Wingnuts' catcher protects victory

Sure, the Wingnuts will take the consecutive shutouts in the first two games of their series against El Paso.

But rookie backup catcher Matthew Powell's method of run prevention on Wednesday afternoon against the Diablos proved to be much more exciting.

Powell was perfectly lined up near home plate on a throw home from Mike Conroy in the eighth inning, and Powell held onto the ball after a violent collision, preserving Wichita's one-run lead and allowing it to escape with a 6-5 win at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.

The hit by Stephen Douglas knocked Powell out of the game for the final four defensive outs, but it earned him hero status among his teammates. Powell's jersey was soaked with blood and he had a cotton ball to stop the bleeding in his nose.

"From what I think happened, my back shifted back and he hit me right in the nose," said Powell, who said he never lost consciousness. "He got me pretty good. It's one of the few times I've been hit. I definitely don't look forward to it."

The Wingnuts led 6-3 before reliever Kendy Batista allowed a hit and three walks to hand El Paso a run. Closer Josh Dew came on to attempt a five-out save, but he allowed a first-pitch bases-loaded single to score Kory Drew.

Trailing Drew was Douglas, who chugged to try beat the ball to the plate. Conroy's throw arrived well before Douglas did, and Powell braced himself for impact, keeping the ball as he was bowled over. Dew stuck out the next batter to preserve Wichita's one-run lead.

"I knew they were begging for some runs, so I knew (El Paso manager Jorge) Alvarez was going to send him," Conroy said. "It was a quality throw and Powell, our catcher, showed... some guts, to sit in there and take the blow."

The Wingnuts outscored El Paso 19-0 in the first two games of the series, when the only reliever they used was Michael Cotter. The Wingnuts had virtually their full complement of relievers, much needed with 100-degree heat sapping energy from both starting pitchers.

Chad Sherman made it through 5 2/3 innings and 98 pitches, and Wichita survived an at-times shaky effort from its relievers. Dew was looking at a clean ninth inning with a three-run lead before Batista's ineffectiveness forced Dew into the game earlier than expected.

"(Batista) has been pretty good," Hooper said. "A little off today, he couldn't find the zone. I don't know what was going on. We got the bases loaded, I was going to (Dew) to get a five out save. He's capable of doing that and he's fresh and he wants the ball."

Dew settled after the out at the plate, striking out Kyle Nichols, then working around a leadoff walk and a two-out single with a two-strikeout ninth to earn his 11th save.

"I'm always ready for the eighth and ninth," Dew said. "Even when the setup man gets in trouble, I'm always ready to go. I want to be there to help him out."

The Wingnuts have taken the lead no later than the third inning in each of the games in the series, and El Paso didn't put up much of a fight in the first two. Wednesday's loss dropped the Diablos to 11-34.

"It seems that El Paso, you score a couple runs and they shut it down," Conroy said. "You treat is as you're playing St. Paul or a quality team."

Wichita led 3-0 after batting in the third but El Paso hung around. It appeared Garcia's hit would tie it in the eighth, but Conroy and Powell teamed to make the game-saving play. It beat up Powell physically, but his emotional state was flawless as his accomplishment sank in.

"I'm happy to do it," Powell said. "I love catching, and that's what of the main things you've got to do, you've got to be a man about it. You've got to block that plate. (Douglas) isn't that much bigger than me."

EL PASOabrhbiWICHITAabrhbi

Douglas rf3110Conroy lf5030

Machado 2b4011Patterson rf4010

Garcia 3b4122Clevlen cf5000

Nichols 1b5122Richardson 3b4110

Mejia dh4010Delgado 1b4120

Parra pr0000Workman dh3221

Smith lf4000Horn ss4123

Gonzalez ss5030Powell c4000

Deleo c5130Bellorin c0000

Drew cf2100Duran 2b4131

Totals 365135Totals 376145

El Paso001 020 020 — 5 Wichita030 110 10x —6

E—Machado (7), Powell (1). DP—El Paso 1, Wichita 1. 2B—Richardson (9), Workman (17), Horn (15), Duran (5). 3B—Garcia (1), Mejia (4), Horn (1), Duran (2). HR—Nichols (9). SB—Douglas (14). CS—Parra (5), Gonzalez (2). SF—Workman (5)

El Pasoiphrerbbso

Jung L, 2-25 1/3115500

Vander Weg2 2/331015


Sherman W, 1-05 2/383322

Simon1 1/320000

Batista 1/312230

Dew S, 111 2/320013

HBP—By Sherman (Drew). WP—Jung (1). Umpires—Home, Kurt Branin; First, Lance Vaughn; Third, Travis Godec. T—2:46. A—3,517.