Sixteen scoreless innings were enough.
Wingnuts designated hitter John Rodriguez homered off the scoreboard in a three-run third, and C.J. Ziegler highlighted a four-run fifth with a bases-clearing double to right in a 10-5 win over the New Jersey Jackals on Friday at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
The 11 hits — five for extra bases — came on a night when the Wingnuts (5-4) had grown desperate for scoring. Under the shadow of Thursday night’s 1-0 loss to start the series, the Wingnuts stretched their scoreless innings streak to 16 until second baseman Jake Kahaulelio rolled a two-out RBI double to the left-center field fence in the third. Rodriguez followed with his first home run, and manager Kevin Hooper knew it was just the beginning.
“That’s the old group I like to see,” he said. “I knew it was just a matter of time, and I knew once that happened we were going to feed off of it.”
Seven runs on seven hits through five innings knocked out New Jersey starter Craig Bennigson, who was pulled with one out in the fourth and suffered his second loss in as many starts.
The home team added three more runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Much of the newfound production came from the top of the Wingnuts’ lineup. The first four batters scored nine of the 10 runs and accounted for 9 of 11 hits.
“Not making excuses, but sometimes it can take a little time to get your bodies and your legs back under you, especially after a long road trip like we just had,” Rodriguez said. “We did the little things we needed to do to get on base and we had our minds right, so I knew today we were going to come out and do what we needed to do.”
After Thursday night’s scoreless effort wasted a gem from starter Ryan Hinson, the Wingnuts’ bats gave plenty of support to Friday starter Junior Guerra, who gave up 9 hits but stranded eight runners over seven innings. The 28-year-old Venezuelan walked none, struck out eight and picked up his second win.
Guerra also had help from shortstop Ryan Khoury and his three diving stops late in the game that turned potential rally-building hits into outs.
“You can’t take your eyes off him when he’s doing that,” Ziegler said. “Sometimes you just have to enjoy what he’s capable of doing.”
Jackals second baseman Jose Cuevas, who drove in the lone run in the series opener, helped produce four of the visiting team’s five runs. He drove in the first score with a two-out single in the second inning, then benefitted from a defensive breakdown in the eighth with two outs and two on. Cuevas hit a fly ball to center that bounced off Jared McDonald’s glove, clearing the bases. Cuevas reached third and scrambled home when the ball popped away on the throw back to the infield.
The two teams will wrap up their three-game interleague series Saturday night at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
|Sabatella rf||5||1||1||0||Khoury ss||3||3||1||1|
|Curran cf||4||0||2||0||Kahaulelio 2b||4||2||3||2|
|Barnes ss||5||0||1||0||Rodriguez dh||5||3||2||3|
|Duffy 1b||3||1||1||0||Ziegler 1b||4||1||1||2|
|Giarraputo 3b||5||1||1||0||Armstrong c||4||0||2||1|
|Arbelo dh||5||1||1||0||Nieves 3b||4||0||1||0|
|Rams lf||4||0||2||0||Loehrs lf||4||0||1||0|
|Cuevas 2b||3||1||1||1||Amberson rf||4||1||0||0|
|Nisson c||4||0||1||0||McDonald cf||4||0||0||0|
|New Jersey||010||000||031||—||5 11 1|
|Wichita||003||040||12x||—||10 11 3|
E— Barnes (3), McDonald 3 (3). LOB— New Jersey 10, Wichita 5. 2B— Rams (1), Kahaulelio 2 (3), Ziegler (2). HR — Rodriguez (1). HBP — Cuevas (2) by Guerra, Khoury (3) by Bennigson, Kahaulelio (1) by Bennigson). SB — Curran 2 (7), Barnes (1), Cuevas (3).
|Bennigson L, 0-2||4 1/3||7||7||7||1||2|
|Guerra W, 2-0||7||9||1||1||0||8|
HB — Cuevas by Guerra (1), Khoury by Bennigson (1), Kahaulelio by Benigson (2). WP — Rose (1), Francisco (1), Guerra (1), White 2 (3).
Umpires — home, John Durante; first, Craig Compton; third, Dan Hoffman. T — 2:59. A — 2,746.