The Wingnuts used a five-run fifth inning in game one and a big four-run sixth inning to come from behind in game two to take both ends of a doubleheader, 6-2 and 6-4, from the Grand Prairie AirHogs on Wednesday at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
The Wingnuts (27-13) received a spark from their leadoff hitter Ryan Khoury in the third inning of the first contest when he homered to left field to take a 1-0 lead over Brandon Bargas (2-5) and the AirHogs (15-24).
After Bargas stranded a pair in the fourth, the Nuts offense went into attack mode in the fifth. Bargas allowed a leadoff double to Chris McClendon and then walked Khoury. Carlo Testa attempted to move the runners with a sacrifice bunt, but was unsuccessful, as Grand Prairie threw out the lead runner at third. Jake Kahaulelio scored a pair with a groundball double that he tucked inside the first base line, extending the lead to 3-0. Two batters later, Chris McMurray traded places with Kahaulelio on an RBI double of his own. The next man up was J.T. Wise who smoked a two-run home run halfway up the batter’s eye in center field to score a couple more and run the lead to 6-0.
Jason Van Skike (4-1) exited with two outs in the sixth and a pair of runners on base. Alan Williams threw one pitch and escaped the inning when Jason Botts swung and lined the first offering to Brent Clevlen in center. Van Skike finished with this line: 5.2 shutout innings, three hits, three strikeouts, and one base on balls. He has now thrown 13.0 shutout innings against Grand Prairie this season in four appearances, two as a reliever and two as a starter.
Williams would have less success in the seventh and final inning. He allowed a single and three walks to the first four batters he faced, one base on balls forcing in a run, before being replaced by Daniel Bennett. Bennett earned his first save of the season by allowing just an RBI fielder’s choice groundout to Jimmy Mojica.
Khoury finished the opener 3-3 with a home run, RBI, and two runs scored. He reached base in all four of his trips to the plate. Kahaulelio and Wise ended the game with two runs batted in each.
There was more late-inning drama in the second game as the Wingnuts had to come from behind twice to emerge on top. Initially, it was the Wingnuts who got out of the gates fast. Testa walked, stole second, moved to third on a single to left by Kahaulelio, and raced around to score when Botts had trouble fielding the ball.
The AirHogs took their first lead of the day against Jon Link in the third inning. Mojica and Alex Nunez both singled to start the inning and then Abel Nieves sacrificed them over to third. Botts did just enough to get the game’s first run home when he bounced out to second base, bringing in Mojica. Frazier Hall, who had the game-winning hit in the 11th on Monday, singled to score Nunez and it was 2-0.
Khoury tied the game with his second home run of the day and fourth of the season, another deep fly to left, in the fifth inning.
However, the AirHogs weren’t about to go quietly, they answered right back in the top of the sixth. With two on and one out, Brian Myrow, the Grand Prairie hitting coach who was activated earlier in the day, doubled off of the wall in right-centerfield to clear the bases and put his team back in front 4-2. Patrick Mincey (1-1) came on to record the final two outs of the winning and put himself in line for the win. Link finished having thrown 5.1 innings and allowed four runs on seven hits.
Ty’Relle Harris (1-1) came on to pitch in the bottom of the sixth and the Wingnuts jumped all over him. The first four batters of the inning reached on base hits to tie the game. Clevlen hit a double that plated David Amberson and Wise knocked in Clevlen two batters later. With two on base the newest Wingnut, Trevor Whyte, tried laying down a sacrifice bunt, but it was bobbled by the catcher and he reached to load the bases. Taylor Oldham strode to the plate and ripped a two-RBI double to right-centerfield that put the Wingnuts in front by a 6-4 score.
Closer Matt Nevarez retired the side in order in the bottom half of the inning to earn his league-high tying 11thsave of the season. Clevlen was the only Wingnuts’ hitter with multiple hits, while Mojica and Hall accomplished the task for the AirHogs.
The teams will close out the four-game series on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. in the final game of the Wingnuts’ seven-game homestand. LHP Anthony Capra (4-2) will toss for Wichita against RHP Jason Jarvis (0-1) of the AirHogs. The game will be followed by the PF Chang’s Post-Game Home Run Derby in which fans can sign up to try to hit a ball out of Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. For information on season tickets, group outings, and party packages, call the Wingnuts' main office at (316) 264-NUTS, or visit the Wingnuts' official website at www.wichitawingnuts.com.