Wichita Wingnuts

Relentless Wingnuts wear down Lemurs

Correspondent

The Wingnuts made Friday’s 12-2 win over Laredo look easy, but with a high degree of difficulty.

Much of Wichita’s offense came with two outs or two strikes – and sometimes both – normally precarious situations that the Wingnuts (51-33) handled with ease in moving to a season-best 18 games over .500.

The Wingnuts quickly solved Laredo’s side-arming left-hander, Luis Pollorena, and tallied 15 hits at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.

“We talk about two-strike approach all the time and making an adjustment with two strikes,” Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. “When you put the ball in play, good things are going to happen.”

Jayce Ray didn’t earn a hit in his first-inning at-bat, but he offered evidence that the Wingnuts had the upper hand against Pollorena, who essentially ran out of pitches after throwing eight to Ray.

After a first-pitch single by David Espinosa and a walk to Andy LaRoche, T.J. Mittelstaedt delivered a two-out, two-strike RBI single. John Nester followed with a three-run home run, and the Wingnuts had all necessary offense.

“A lot of times the guy has to throw everything he’s got (during long at-bats), otherwise he’s just going to keep wasting pitches,” Ray said. “He didn’t really throw much but a fastball and a slider. When there’s too many pitches, a lot of guys have to go to their third and fourth pitches.

“When you show that to a team in the first inning, that’s never a good sign for their pitcher.”

If Ray was caught off-guard by any of the nine pitches he saw in the first inning, Pollorena’s deceptiveness didn’t have a lasting effect on Ray or any of the other Wingnuts hitters.

Pollorena had two-strike counts against 14 hitters but didn’t strike out any of them. Wichita had five two-strike hits, along with a walk and a sacrifice fly, homing in on Pollorena’s lackluster fastball that didn’t have enough of a velocity discrepancy to make his off-speed pitches effective.

The Wingnuts lead the lead in walks, a statistic largely carried by David Espinosa and T.J. Mittelstaedt. But a hidden aspect of that patience is the ability to keep at-bats alive with two strikes and extend into more favorable counts.

“Nobody wants to make an out,” Ray said. “That’s common for every team, but especially this team. T.J. and Espy are leading the league in walks, so you go up there and watch them walks on four straight pitches that aren’t even close. Then I’m battling to get those pitches to get those pitches that they’re getting that aren’t close so I can take them.”

Ray had a pair of hits against Pollorena on 0-2 counts, contributing singles to Wichita’s five combined runs in the third and fourth innings that also included Taylor Smart’s two-strike single and a full-count walk by LaRoche.

The Wingnuts led 9-2 entering the bottom of the seventh but found more high-leverage offense against Laredo reliever BJ Hyatt. Leo Vargas had a two-out RBI double on a full count, followed by two more hits and a walk that gave the Wingnuts a three-run inning.

The difference between Friday’s output and many previous games was not that the Wingnuts often waited for two outs to jumpstart the offense, but that it was sustainable.

“We’ve actually kind of been a two-out hitting team all year,” Ray said. “When we were struggling, we’d be like, ‘Oh, two outs, let’s get a hit now.’ It’s the kind of stuff we’ve been doing all year but it’s a lot nicer when there’s guys on when we do it.”

Laredo

Wichita

ab

r

h

bi

ab

r

h

bi

Pulfer ss

3

0

1

1

VanStrat cf

5

1

2

3

Morrison lf

2

0

1

0

Ray rf

4

1

2

1

Nieves 2b

4

0

1

0

Espinosa dh

3

2

3

1

Phipps rf

4

0

0

0

LaRoche 1b

3

1

0

0

Denker 1b

4

0

1

0

Mittelstdt 3b

3

1

1

2

Taylor dh

4

1

0

0

Melo 3b, ph

1

0

0

0

Silverio 3b

3

1

1

0

Nester c

4

1

1

4

Martinez cf

3

0

1

0

Dean c

1

0

0

0

Pohl c

2

0

1

1

Kain lf

5

1

1

0

Smart ss

4

2

3

0

Vargas 2b

4

2

2

1

Totals

29

2

7

2

Totals

37

12

15

12

Laredo

020

000

000

2

Wichita

402

300

30x

12

E— LaRoche. DP—Laredo 1, Wichita 2. LOB— Laredo 4, Wichita 7. 2B—Vargas. 3B — Van Stratten. HR — Nester (5). CS — Morrison. SF — Pulfer, Mittelstaedt.

Laredo

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Pollorena L,5-4

6

10

9

9

4

0

Hyatt

1

5

3

3

1

1

De La Cruz

1

0

0

0

0

0

Wichita

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Van Skike W,7-5

7

6

2

1

2

2

Kuzminsky

2

1

0

0

0

0

T— 2:41. A — 5,126.

Laredo at Wingnuts

When: 7:05 p.m. Saturday

Where: Lawrence-Dumont Stadium

Records: Laredo 44-39, Wingnuts 51-33

Pitchers: Laredo, TBA; Wingnuts, RH Eddie Medina (4-0, 1.69 ERA)

Radio: KWME, 92.7-FM

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