Wichita Wingnuts

Big bats help Wingnuts rally for win over Lemurs

The Wingnuts' T.J. Mittelstaedt, right, celebrates his two-run home run with teammate Andy LaRoche in the fourth inning Saturday night against Laredo.
The Wingnuts' T.J. Mittelstaedt, right, celebrates his two-run home run with teammate Andy LaRoche in the fourth inning Saturday night against Laredo. Correspondent

T.J. Mittelstaedt called the production from the Wingnuts’ middle of the order an exception, but he may have spoken too soon.

Wichita has 15 games remaining, and while none of them will probably include six extra-base hits from the middle of the order, increased production from that section of the lineup can become a safer bet.

Andy LaRoche, Mittelstaedt and John Nester combined for nine hits – including two home runs by Mittelstaedt and four doubles – in a comeback 7-5 win over Laredo on Saturday night at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.

The Wingnuts are 8-2 since LaRoche, a former major-league infielder, joined the team on Aug. 12 and was firmly planted somewhere in the middle. He had two doubles from the cleanup spot on Saturday, serving as a catalyst for two other thunderous hitters.

“Pretty impressive,” Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. “The guys on top get on and those guys drive them in. That’s how you like to draw it up.”

Laredo led 4-1 after the top of the third inning, an advantage that felt more significant. Wingnuts starter Eddie Medina allowed seven combined hits – few of them cheap – during the second and third innings, but he managed to escape with minimal damage.

Laredo stranded runners at second and third base in the second inning, had one thrown out at third in the third, and couldn’t score after Juan Silverio’s leadoff double in the fourth. The Lemurs’ inability to break it open left the Wingnuts room to expedite a rally rather than chipping away.

Mittelstaedt’s first home run, a two-run shot following a LaRoche double in the fourth, made it 4-3 and stalled Laredo’s unfulfilled momentum. The Wingnuts didn’t score again until the sixth, but the shift was palpable.

“Huge hit right there – it got us right back within one swing,” Hooper said. “You’re down 4-1, one swing of the bat gets you right back in this thing and it’s 4-3. We kept them where they were at and we kept taking advantage of our opportunities.”

The Wingnuts took the lead more modestly in the sixth, scoring three runs on a wild pitch and a pair of sacrifice flies to go ahead 6-4. Even though Laredo got within a run on a homer in the eighth, Wichita’s small lead seemed just as decisive as Laredo’s earlier.

“They’re a really good frontrunning team,” Mittelstaedt said. “If they’re ahead they’re really hard to catch up to. Once they get ahead, they’re running away. With these guys, the bats that they have, if they get ahead they get really confident and the swings get really aggressive.

“Once we came back today and took the lead, you could kind of see our pitches throwing more aggressively and hitting their spots and not worrying about giving up a hit.”

Mittelstaedt contributed with more than his bat. He helped the Wingnuts avoid stickiness in the top of the seventh with a lunging catch at third base on a line drive hit by Ty Morrison.

On contact, the ball immediately began tailing away from Mittelstaedt, who reacted quickly and reached across his body to snag the first out of the inning.

“It’s a reaction,” Mittelstaedt said. “Off a left-handed bat I know it’s fading away. I was in the right spot for it, I guess. I think if I was playing all the way back, that ball would have stayed down the line and I wouldn’t have had a chance.”

The Wingnuts made four errors that led to three unearned runs, but they also avoided trouble using defense. Two batters after Mittelstaedt’s catch, left fielder Harrison Kain dove to catch a low line drive just before it hit the ground.

Wichita also escaped the eighth with a double play after Laredo homered and singled.

“I don’t like giving free outs, so we have to make the plays that we have the opportunity to make, especially against a good ballclub,” Hooper said. “If you keep doing it, they’re going to make us pay, and they made us pay that (second) inning.”

Laredo

Wichita

ab

r

h

bi

ab

r

h

bi

Pulfer ss

5

0

1

1

VStratten cf

3

1

1

0

Morrison lf

5

0

0

0

Ray rf

3

0

0

0

Nieves 2b

4

1

1

0

Espinosa dh

4

0

1

0

Denker 1b

4

1

1

0

LaRoche 1b

4

2

3

1

Phipps rf

3

1

2

1

Mttlstdt 3b

4

3

3

3

Taylor dh

3

1

1

1

Nester c

4

1

3

0

Pohl c

4

0

1

0

Kain lf

2

0

0

1

Silverio 3b

4

1

2

1

Smart ss

4

0

0

0

Martinez cf

3

0

1

0

Vargas 2b

3

0

0

1

Totals

35

5

11

4

Totals

31

7

10

6

Laredo

031

000

010

5

Wichita

100

203

01x

7

E — Pulfer 2 (2), Van Stratten (1), Mittelstaedt 2 (10), Smarat (2). DP — Laredo, Wichita. LOB —Laredo 6, Wichita 5. 2B — Silverio (16), Espinosa (14), LaRoche 2 (5), Nester 2 (17). HR — Taylor (7), Mittelstaedt 2 (13). S —Taylor 2, Martinez, Ray, Kain. SF — Kain, Vargas. SB — Van Stratten (1)..

Laredo

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Kendall L,1-2

5

7

6

5

1

2

De La Cruz

1

0

0

0

0

0

Beckman

1

3

1

1

0

0

Brebbia

1

0

0

0

0

2

Wichita

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Medina

5

9

4

1

1

3

Boshers W,2-2

3

2

1

1

0

0

Smyth S,4

1

0

0

0

0

1

WP — Kendall (10). Umpires — home, Bryan Childe; first, Chantz Wilson; third, Tyler Thurmond. T — 2:34. A — 4,858.

Laredo at Wingnuts

When: 1:05 p.m. Sunday

Where: Lawrence-Dumont Stadium

Records: Laredo 44-39, Wingnuts 52-33

Pitchers: Laredo, RH Luis De La Cruz (1-2, 3.09 ERA); Wingnuts, RH Jon Link (6-0, 1.51)

Radio: KWME, 92.7-FM

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