Wichita Wingnuts

Wingnuts use sharp pitching to top Grand Prairie

Wichita Wingnuts' Charlie Lowell pitches against Grand Prairie on Sunday. The Wingnuts won 2-1.
Wichita Wingnuts' Charlie Lowell pitches against Grand Prairie on Sunday. The Wingnuts won 2-1. The Wichita Eagle

Wingnuts pitchers racked up strikeouts on Sunday whether they needed them or not.

Starter Charlie Lowell and multiple relievers escaped trouble by overmatching Grand Prairie batters.

The Wingnuts also often got strikeouts to prevent trouble in the first place, striking out 14 AirHogs in a 2-1 win at Lawrence-Dumont

Eight of Grand Prairie’s strikeouts happened with men on base, as Wichita pitchers prevented a game-changing at-bat that was eventually found by the Wingnuts. Dustin Geiger broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth with a sacrifice fly following T.J. Mittelstaedt’s leadoff double.

“Getting out of jams,” Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. “We talk about that all the time – you put yourself in a tough spot at times, and the good guys are going to battle out of it. We did that today.”

The Wingnuts’ most important escape occurred after Lowell, who made several clutch pitches, was removed following his 100th pitch with two runners on base and no outs in the top of the sixth.

Hooper went to reliever Daniel Bennett, a right-hander with a deceptive sidearm delivery who has struck out 188 batters in 189 professional innings over five seasons.

After a wild pitch moved Grand Prairie’s runners to second and third, Bennett struck out Victor Diaz swinging. Then, against left-handed batters Frazier Hall and pinch-hitter Chris Elder, Bennett recorded two more strikeouts in spite of unfavorable matchups.

“I was thinking, no outs, let’s try to get a real quick groundball, a strikeout, a pop out,” Bennett said. “Try to get us back in the dugout as quick as we can.”

Bennett’s momentum built throughout his brief outing as he became the second of three Wingnuts pitchers to strike out three consecutive batters in the same inning.

Lowell accomplished that feat during a perfect second inning, but his most important strikeouts happened in the third inning, when he struck out two straight following a one-out walk in the third, and in the fifth, when he delivered two strikeouts with a runner on third base.

After Daniel Carela struck out the side in the eighth, Wingnuts closer Daniel Nevarez’s only strikeout came with a runner on second base on the way to Nevarez’s third save.

The Wingnuts’ team strikeout ratio jumped Sunday from 6.9 per nine innings to 7.7 as Wichita finished off a 5-1 homestand to improve to 7-2.

“We like to pick each other up,” Bennett said. “We work with each other, and it’s just something that we take together as a unit. One guy does good, the whole group does good.

“(Strikeouts) are nice to get, but we’re all about putting up zeroes.”

Wichita never tailed, as former Collegiate and Wichita State player Tyler Coughenour singled through a drawn-in infield to score Dustin Geiger after Geiger’s double in the third inning.

Grand Prairie tied it 1-1 against Lowell in the sixth before Bennett’s entrance, and the Wingnuts broke the tie with a double, a bunt and a sacrifice fly two innings later.

The Wingnuts allowed seven runs over their first six home games but scored two or fewer four times. Wichita can afford subpar offense if its pitching continues to dominate, but Hooper would prefer better balance.

“We’re winning – as long as we’re winning, I guess,” Hooper said. “…I told the staff, it’s going to catch up to us one of these nights, and it did (in Friday’s 3-2 loss). We’ve got to keep plugging, grinding, making the most of our at-bats.”

G. Prairie

Wichita

ab

r

h

bi

ab

r

h

bi

McGruder 2b

3

1

1

0

Ray cf

4

0

0

0

Eatherly lf

3

0

0

0

Hernandz 2b

4

0

0

0

Chavez c

4

0

1

1

Espinosa rf

3

0

1

0

Diaz dh

4

0

1

0

Nester dh

4

0

0

0

Hall 1b

4

0

0

0

Mittelstdt lf

2

1

1

0

Ferrante rf

2

0

0

0

Gonzalez ss

2

0

0

0

Elder ph, rf

2

0

1

0

Geiger 1b

2

1

1

1

Estrada ss

4

0

1

0

Dean c

3

0

0

0

Harden 3b

2

0

0

0

Coughenr 3b

2

0

1

1

Jennings cf

3

0

1

0

Totals

31

1

6

1

Totals

26

2

4

2

G. Prairie

000

001

000

1

Wichita

001

000

00x

2

E — Hall. LOB— Grand Prairie 7, Wichita 5. 2B— Diaz, Mittelstaedt, Geiger. 3B—Estrada. SB— Elder, Espinosa, Coughenour. SF — Geiger.

G. Prairie

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Wallach

6

3

1

1

1

5

Ott (L, 0-2)

1

1

1

1

0

0

Harris

1

0

0

0

2

1

Wichita

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Lowell

5

3

1

1

1

7

Bennett

1

0

0

0

0

3

Yevoli (W 2-0)

1

2

0

0

0

0

Carela

1

0

0

0

0

3

Nevarez

1

1

0

0

0

1

WP — Yevoli. PB — Chavez. Umpires — Home, Withers; First, Linton; Third, Wilson. T— 2:32. A— 2,680.

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