Wichita Wingnuts

Wingnuts pitching staff rallies to push into championship series

The American Association championship series begins on Wednesday at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
The American Association championship series begins on Wednesday at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. The Wichita Eagle

The Wingnuts have experienced just about everything the American Association

postseason has to offer.

In 10 seasons in the league, the Wingnuts won and lost series in each of the two

rounds, winning their only championship in 2014. They’ve started series with wins on the

road and ended some with home defeats. The Wingnuts experienced dramatic wins

and crushing losses.

The familiarity with the playoffs grows almost every season. The Wingnuts, who swept

Gary-SouthShore in the first round, start the best-of- 5 championship series against

Winnipeg on Wednesday night at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. The series goes to

Winnipeg for the final three games beginning on Saturday.

The Wingnuts are playing in the championship series for the fifth time in six seasons.

Most of the players on last year’s team, which lost to Winnipeg in the championship

series, return for another shot.

“Everybody’s got a new team every year,” Wingnuts outfielder Richard Prigatano said.

“It doesn’t matter who is in front of us, we want to beat them.”

The Wingnuts, a balanced team all season while winning the South Division, played

similarly against Gary, outscoring the Railcats 20-7 in three games. The pitching may be

especially noteworthy, though, because it faced uncertainties during a 10-game losing

streak near the midway point and wasn’t often collectively healthy.

The late-season acquisition of right-hander Danny Gutierrez solidified the pitching

staff and given it depth. Gutierrez, who had a rough season in the Mexican League, had a

1.69 ERA in four starts for the Wingnuts before pitching seven scoreless innings in Game

1 at Gary.

Alex Boshers and Eddie Medina followed with quality performances and sent the

Wingnuts on their way to the championship series in a takedown of a Gary offense that

couldn’t match Wichita’s firepower.

“Danny gave us a big boost in Game 1 and kind of set the tone, and everybody just kind

of followed his lead,” Wingnuts manager Pete Rose Jr. said. “He kind of showed some

emotion when we played against Cleburne (late in the season) and kind of got us going in

the right direction.

The Wingnuts lost Game 5 to Winnipeg at home after surrendering a 2-1 series lead last season.

They can return the favor this season with the decisive games away from Wichita.

The playoffs are a comfortable environment for the Wingnuts, who ran away with the

South Division and rarely had their mettle tested beyond the rebound from their long

losing streak.

“We came out with a purpose,” Rose said of the first-round win. “It’s been a while since

we’ve played some meaningful games, and to see these guys come together, hopefully we

can catch fire. Maybe we’re getting hot at the right time, we’ll see what happens.”

American Association championship

Wednesday — Winnipeg at Wichita, 7:05 p.m.

Thursday — Winnipeg at Wichita, 7:05 p.m.

Saturday — Wichita at Winnipeg, 6:05 p.m.

Sunday — Wichita at Winnipeg, 4:05 p.m. (if necessary)

Monday — Wichita at Winnipeg, 7:05 p.m. (if necessary)

All games on KGSO, 1410-AM