The Wingnuts and Fargo-Moorhead took sharply different paths toward the numerous scoreless innings it took to send their game into extra innings on Saturday night.
After scoring three runs in the second inning on four hits, Wichita didn’t get another hit until the 10th, with two walks to show for that seven-inning stretch. Fargo, meanwhile, apparently had more baserunners than it knew what to do with, because the RedHawks couldn’t figure out a way to get many of them home.
The game finally ended with the Wingnuts treating post-regulation like a new beginning. Wichita got a runner to second in the 10th after Abel Nieves’s leadoff single, then scored in the 11th with perfectly executed small-ball for a 4-3 win at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. Fargo stranded 18 runners, including 10 in scoring position. The RedHawks’ only 1-2-3 inning was the 10th.
C.J. Ziegler’s sacrifice fly scored Ryan Khoury, who walked to start the bottom of the 11th before moving up on a stolen base and Jake Kahaulelio’s sacrifice attempt that turned into a bunt single.
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The three-game series between American Association first-place teams, which concludes Sunday afternoon, matches up the best pitching staffs in the league, statistically. Fargo proved its worth by shutting down the league’s top offense for much of the game, and the Wingnuts emerged through several difficult situations.
Wichita used seven pitchers. Josh Stone earned the win by retiring the only batter he faced after Lincoln Holdzkom issued a pair of two-out walks in the 11th. Todd Jennings hit a ball just foul down the right-field line before lining out to a diving Khoury at shortstop.
“It was the third inning we got the three (runs), then we didn’t get a hit until the 10th,” Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. “That’s a little too long to go without a hit for me.”
Fargo started Danny Gutierrez, after throwing 34 pitches during the second, breezed through the rest of his outing, though that laborious inning was the primary factor in his leaving with two outs and nobody on in the eighth.
Gutierrez retired 17 of 18 batters and faced the minimum after allowing a two-run single to Jared McDonald in the second. The only blemish after that point was a one-out walk to Nieves, who was promptly caught stealing.
Gutierrez didn’t throw more than 14 pitches in any other inning, and the Wingnuts were apparently happy to see him depart. They got a runner on base in every inning he didn’t pitch, finally breaking through in the 11th.
Khoury walked on six pitches against Mackenzie King, then stole second to put Kahaulelio into an obvious bunting situation. He bunted to the left of the pitcher’s mound, but with first baseman Keith Brachold breaking in, second baseman C.J. Retherford was late covering first and no throw was made.
John Rodriguez was intentionally walked to bring up Ziegler, who doubled in the three-run second but had struck out in his previous two at-bats. After a foul ball, Ziegler hit a soft fly ball to left that had enough distance to easily score Khoury.
“That was our game plan right there,” Hooper said. “We know (King) is pretty slow to the plate, so we were going to try and steal second, and Jake did a great job. Ended up getting it done — ‘Z’ with the big sac fly. We needed to finish that thing. The bullpen did a great job keeping it where it was.”
Where it was at one point was a 3-0 Wingnuts lead. Fargo scored in the third on a throwing error by McDonald in right field, then made it 3-2 when Ronnie Bourquin scored from second on an infield single by Retherford.
The ball rolled slowly down the third-base line, but Abel Nieves ran by it to let it go foul. But it never did, instead scooting into shallow left and giving Retherford time to score. Wingnuts starter Anthony Capra allowed the tying run in the fifth, but six Wichita relievers combined to contribute 5 2/3 scoreless innings.
“If you leave 18 guys on base, you’re playing with fire, first of all,” Hooper said. “Thank goodness we got out of all of them. There were some situations where we got out of some tough jams.”
|Penprase ss||6||1||3||0||Khoury ss||4||`1||0||0|
|Bourquin 3b||3||1||1||0||Kahaullio 2b||5||0||1||0|
|Jackson cf||5||0||0||0||Rodrguez dh||3||0||0||0|
|Rethrfrd 2b||5||0||1||1||Ziegler 1b||4||1||1||1|
|Brachold 1b||6||0||1||0||Clevlen cf||4||1||1||0|
|Alberts dh||6||0||1||0||Nieves 3b||3||1||2||1|
|Einertson lf||4||1||3||1||Armstrong c||4||0||0||0|
|Sosnoskie rf||4||0||1||0||Sing Chow lf||4||0||0||0|
|Jennings c||5||0||0||0||McDonald rf||4||0||1||2|
|Fargo-Moorhead||001||011||000||00||—||3 11 0|
|Wichita||030||000||000||01||—||4 6 1|
One out when winning run scored.
E— McDonald. LOB— Fargo-Moorheaed 18, Wichita 5. 2B— Alberts (26), Einertson 2 (16), Ziegler (27). HR— Einertson (1). SF — Ziegler (6). SB — Penprase (37), Sosnoskie (11), Nieves (13). CS — Nieves (4).
Umpires—Home, Mike O’Leary; first, Ben Sonntag; third, Brian Urton.
T— 3:29. A— 3,466.