Wichita Wingnuts

Wingnuts shut out Winnipeg for the second straight night

The Wichita Eagle

Five games into the season and Wingnuts pitchers are already one-upping one another.

There didn’t seem to be much room for improvement after Wichita shut out Winnipeg in a 10-inning win in Tuesday’s home opener, but four Wingnuts pitchers combined on a one-hitter in a 2-0 win over Winnipeg on Wednesday at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.

Omar Bencomo faced the minimum 18 batters over six innings in his first regular-season start since 2010. The 26-year-old right-hander picked off the only two batters who reached base against him.

“That’s the thing – if you can pitch, you’re in it every night,” Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. “That’s how we’ve been for quite a few years now, and (the pitchers) give us a chance every night. We’ll get the bats going and make some adjustments here and there, but we got enough to win. That’s all that matters.”

Bencomo has been exclusively a reliever during his career save for six winter league starts in his native Venezuela over the last two years.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Bencomo didn’t allow a baserunner until the fourth inning, but even that exhibited the control he had over Winnipeg’s hitters. Adam Heisler reached after his swinging third strike got past Wichita catcher Jon Nester, but Heisler didn’t stay on base for long.

Bencomo used his quick feet and equally quick release to pick off Heisler, and Josh Mazzola suffered the same fate after he followed Heisler with a single.

“That’s my secret weapon,” Bencomo said.

Mazzola became the first of three Winnipeg ejections for arguing the call, but Bencomo was unfazed. He retired Casey Haerther on a groundout to end the fourth then retired six more in a row, finishing his outing after six innings and 75 pitches.

“We knew he wanted to start,” Hooper said. “Worst-case scenario, he was going to be our long (reliever) to start the season, then fill into the rotation if there was ever a need. But (Andy) Moye just wasn’t ready and we all liked what we saw out of (Bencomo) so we sent him out to get ready for tonight.”

The Wingnuts have gotten their best starting pitching performances the first time through the rotation from No. 4 starter Charlie Lowell and Bencomo, Wichita’s No. 5.

Lowell and Bencomo would likely be more prominent on other staffs, but top three starters Anthony Capra, Tim Brown and Jason Van Skike each pitched for the Wingnuts on their way to the 2014 American Association championship.

Wichita’s depth extends beyond the starters, as relievers Brad Mincey, Daniel Carela and Matt Nevarez combined for three hitless innings with one baserunner. Carela and Nevarez each struck out the side — a feat Bencomo accomplished in the second inning.

“It was a surprise for me,” Bencomo said of the success of his first start, essentially, in five years. “But I’m here, just to help the team.”

Dustin Geiger accounted for all of Wichita’s offense, driving in both runs. He was credited with an RBI single in the first, when T.J. Mittelstaedt was initially safe on an attempted force play at second base before he overslid the base and was tagged out.

Geiger got a more traditional RBI with a solo home run in the fourth, a line drive that smacked off the higher of two walls in left field, above the yellow line.

For the second straight night, the Wingnuts were mostly quiet in the later innings, but runs weren’t a necessity thanks to Wichita’s pitching. Winnipeg never got a runner past first base and struck out 13 times.

“Just grind it out, find a way,” Hooper said. “I told them in our hitters meeting the other day, the way we pitch and defend, every time we cross home plate is going to be priceless. They’re precious runs anytime we can get them, and it’s showed the last two nights.”

Winnipeg

Wichita

ab

r

h

bi

ab

r

h

bi

Heisler cf

4

0

0

0

Hernandz 2b

4

0

0

0

Mazzola 3b

2

0

1

0

Gonzalez ss

3

1

1

0

Jackson p

0

0

0

0

Mittelstdt 3b

4

0

1

0

Wilson ph

1

0

0

0

Geiger 1b

4

1

2

2

Smith p

0

0

0

0

Espinosa rf

3

0

1

0

Pope p

0

0

0

0

Nester c

3

0

1

0

Haerther dh

3

0

0

0

Dean lf

3

0

0

0

Jackson lf

3

0

0

0

Ray cf

3

0

1

0

Wilson rf

3

0

0

0

Oldham dh

2

0

0

0

Baker 1b

2

0

0

0

Ortega c

3

0

0

0

Boyer ss

3

0

0

0

Grider 2b

3

0

0

0

Totals

27

0

1

0

Totals

29

2

7

2

Winnipeg

000

000

000

0 1 0

Wichita

100

100

00x

2 7 0

DP— Winnipeg 1. LOB— Winnipeg 1, Wichita 6. 2B— Nester (2). HR – Geiger (1). SB – Gonzalez (1).

Winnipeg

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Jackson, L 1-1

6

6

2

2

2

5

Smith

1

1

0

0

0

1

Pope

1

0

0

0

0

1

Wichita

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Bencomo W, 1-0

6

1

0

0

0

7

Mincey

1

0

0

0

0

0

Carela

1

0

0

0

1

3

Nevarez S,1

1

0

0

0

0

3

HB — Gonzalez by Pope (1). WP — Bencomo (1). Umpires—Home, Chantz Wilson; first, Tyler Thurmond; third, Bryan Childe.

T— 2:22. A — 1,930.

Winnipeg at Wingnuts

When: 7:05 p.m. Thursday

Where: Lawrence-Dumont Stadium

Records: Winnipeg 3-3, Wingnuts 4-1

Pitchers: Winnipeg, TBA; Wingnuts, LH Anthony Capra (0-1, 9.64 ERA)

Radio: KWME, 92.7-FM

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