There are often a multitude of complaints from an offense after it gets shut out — a missed opportunity here, poor execution there.
After the Wingnuts lost to New Jersey 1-0 at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium on Thursday night, one grievance rose above the rest — the hard-luck loss Ryan Hinson was saddled with as the Wingnuts failed to score the runs that would have earned him a much-deserved win.
Hinson struck out 13 in eight efficient innings. His only blemish was the second inning, when the Jackals scored on a pair of doubles. That inning, though, also represented the best of Hinson, as he struck out the side on the way to a team record.
Craig Heyer earned the win for New Jersey, shutting out Wichita over seven innings with three strikeouts and no walks. Hinson also didn’t walk a batter, and both pitchers allowed five hits.
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"That’s the worst part," Wingnuts shortstop Ryan Khoury said. "It’s terrible we couldn’t get him a win, he pitched unreal. Pretty much dominated the lineup, and he looked really, really good.
"We need to do a better job of getting him a win right there, but if he pitches like that all year, he’s going to be really, really good."
It’s sometimes difficult to produce a high number of strikeouts without an exorbitant pitch count, because strikeouts are often the product of hitters getting into deeper counts. That wasn’t the case for Hinson, who never entered a three-ball count and threw one ball or fewer to 23 of the 28 batters he faced.
Nine of Hinson’s strikeouts came on four pitches or fewer. He struck out the side twice. Hinson never threw more than five balls in an inning, and in two innings he threw only strikes. Of his 90 pitches, 74 were strikes.
"It’s definitely a product of throwing a lot of strikes," Hinson said of his high strikeout total. "It’s maintaining. It’s maintaining your rhythm, it’s maintaining your mechanics. I worked hard during the week to fix some things that I learned … to try to throw less pitches, get me deeper into the game."
Jose Cuevas, who had two doubles against Hinson, drove in the only run with a two-out double in the second. Hinson retired the next 12 batters and 16 of the next 17, but the Wingnuts didn’t use that time to figure out Heyer.
It might not have been all Heyer, though. The Wingnuts are establishing a trend of low-output games that have manager Kevin Hooper alarmed even after eight games.
The Wingnuts scored four in the first inning of Wednesday’s win at Gary, but aside from that all they have to show for the last four games are three one-run innings. Khoury, Wichita’s leadoff man, was on base three times Thursday but never advanced to scoring position.
The closest Wichita came to scoring was in the third inning, when a two-out Jared McDonald double was followed by an infield single from Khoury. That gave an RBI chance to Jake Kahaulelio, who grounded out. The Wingnuts didn’t get another runner into scoring position.
"Good teams, it’s everybody contributing, and we’re not doing that right now by any means," Hooper said. "My hands are tied. I’m not able to do a lot of stuff I want to do. I’m an aggressive guy when we get guys on early on in an inning, and it’s just not happening right now. It’s unfortunate — Hinson pitched his tail off."
The Wingnuts were ultimately betrayed by the strikeout that served them so well throughout the game, striking out four times over the final two innings. Wichita couldn’t produce a ninth-inning rally with its 3-4-5 hitters up, going down in order on 13 pitches.
The pace of the game allowed Hinson to settle into a rhythm, but a run would have been just as helpful.
"I can’t really complain a whole lot about the hitters," Hinson said. "They’re not going to tell me how to pitch, I’m not going to tell them how to hit. I know they’re upset with how they played tonight. They’ll come out (Friday) and they’ll be ready to hit again."
|Sabatella rf||4||0||0||0||Khoury ss||4||0||3||0|
|Curran cf||4||0||0||0||Kahaulelio 2b||4||0||0||0|
|Barnes ss||4||0||2||0||Rodriguez dh||4||0||1||0|
|Duffy 1b||4||0||0||0||Ziegler 1b||4||0||0||0|
|Giarraputo 3b||4||1||2||0||Armstrong c||4||0||0||0|
|Arbelo dh||4||0||0||0||Nieves 3b||3||0||0||0|
|Rams lf||3||0||0||0||Loehrs lf||3||0||0||0|
|Cuevas 2b||3||0||2||1||Amberson rf||3||0||1||0|
|Nisson c||3||0||0||0||McDonald cf||3||0||1||0|
LOB — New Jersey 5, Wichita 5. 2B — Giarraputo (3), Cuevas 2 (3), McDonald (3). CS — Khoury.
Umpires — Dan Hoffman, home; John Durante, first; Chad Kettleman, third. T —.2:09. A — 2,343.