Wichita Wingnuts

Wingnuts reload with middle-infield duo

When Ryan Khoury and Jake Kahaulelio retired after the Wingnuts won the American Association championship last season, replacing them meant the team had to forge a new identity.

Khoury and Kahaulelio, Wichita’s shortstop and second baseman the last three seasons, were the on-field faces for the Wingnuts as they tried to capture their first title, losing in the championship series the prior two years before last season’s breakthrough.

"It’s really tough replacing a Ryno and a Jake, guys who have been the cornerstone of this organization the last three years," Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. "Me being a middle (of the diamond) guy, you know how important that is to me."

The Wingnuts’ new identity, at least before the offense emerged for a 15-9 win at Lincoln on Sunday, has been pitching and defense. It’s spearheaded by the efforts of new middle-infield combination Luis Hernandez and Alberto Gonzalez, former major-league infielders.

Khoury and Kahaulelio, catalysts for Wichita’s offense, were most known for their defense and chemistry turning double plays. Hernandez and Gonzalez seem to have similar familiarity, and each has a game-winning hit during the Wingnuts’ 11-4 start.

The Wingnuts have the league’s third-lowest ERA and neither Hernandez nor Gonzalez has committed an error.

"Those two guys are unbelievable up the middle," Hooper said. "I always say you can’t teach experience, and they’ve got parts of 12 years in the major leagues combined. Gonzo played three years in a row of 100 games or more in the big leagues."

Gonzalez played 426 major-league games in parts of seven seasons and backed up Derek Jeter at shortstop for the Yankees in 2007, ’08 and 2013. Hernandez was a Baltimore Oriole, Kansas City Royal, New York Met and Texas Ranger for a combined 122 games between 2007-12.

Guerra joins White Sox — Right-handed pitcher Junior Guerra became the second Wingnuts player to advance to major league baseball when he was promoted on Sunday to the Chicago White Sox, where he becomes a 30-year-old rookie.

Guerra, who pitched for the Wingnuts in 2011 and 2013, hadn’t played affiliated baseball since 2008 before joining the White Sox organization this season, advancing through Double-A and Triple-A before Sunday’s promotion.

The highlight of Guerra’s Wingnuts tenure happened in 2011, when he pitched 7 1/3 innings of a combined no-hitter, the eight-year-old franchise’s only no-hitter at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.

"I was waiting for this moment for many years," Guerra told ESPN.com through an interpreter. "That dream, that possibility to reach your dream, was my motivation."

David Peralta, a 2012 Wingnuts outfielder, has played for the Arizona Diamondbacks since he was called up from the minor leagues early last season. The Wingnuts have employed several former major-league players, but only Guerra and Peralta reached MLB after their time in Wichita.

Wichita 15, Lincoln 9 — Wichita’s TJ Mittelstaedt went 4 for 5 with two runs and five RBIs as the Wingnuts lit up the scoreboard at Lincoln. Jayce Ray went 5 for 6 for the Wingnuts with two runs and one RBI, while Luis Hernandez finished with three hits.

Scott Kuzminsky picked up the win for Wichita, giving up three hits, four walks and striking out five in 5 2/3 innings.

Wichita

Lincoln

ab

r

h

bi

ab

r

h

bi

Ray cf

6

2

5

1

Young ss

4

0

1

0

Gnzlz ss

3

1

1

0

Joynt rf

4

1

0

0

Cghnr 3b, ph

3

0

0

0

Gaston cf

4

0

2

0

Espnsa rf

3

4

2

2

Ziegler dh

3

1

1

2

Padgett 1b

6

1

1

2

Smith 3b

4

1

0

0

Nester dh

4

1

2

2

Hmltn 1b

4

1

1

2

Oldham ph

0

0

0

0

Forgtch lf

4

1

2

0

Mittlst 2b, 3b

5

2

4

5

Lshly 2b

4

2

2

0

Dean c

6

1

1

0

Wiggins c

4

2

2

5

Geiger lf

4

1

1

2

Hrndz 2b, ss

6

2

3

1

Totals

46

15

20

15

Totals

35

9

11

9

Wichita

222

150

210

15

Lincoln

000

000

450

9

E — Smith. DP – Wichita, 3, Lincoln 0. LOB – Wichita 14, Lincoln 5. 2B – Espinosa, Nester, Ziegler, Wiggins. 3B – Dean. HR – Mittelstaedt 2, Geiger, Wiggins.

Wichita

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Kusminsky W,1-0

5 2/3

3

0

0

4

5

Bennett

1 1/3

4

4

4

1

1

Mincey

1

4

5

5

1

1

Yevoli

1

0

0

0

0

1

Lincoln

Staniewicz L,0-3

3 1/3

7

7

7

6

3

Gaynor

3 2/3

10

7

7

2

2

King

2

3

1

1

1

2

WP – Kusminsky. T – 3:12. A – 2,717.

Laredo at Wingnuts

When: 7:05 p.m. Monday

Where: Lawrence-Dumont Stadium

Records: Laredo, 8-8, Wingnuts 11-4

Pitchers: Laredo, RH Sam Martin (1-0, 4.21); Wingnuts, LH Anthony Capra (1-1, 5.06)

Radio: KWME, 92.7-FM

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