Photo Credit: Jancy Ireland Photography
WICHITA, KS- The Wichita Wingnuts (49-36) defeated the Sioux City Explorers (38-47) 6-5 in 11 innings at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium on Friday night.
C.J. Ziegler hit a deep drive down the left field line with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning to score the winning run. With one out, Mike Conroy legged out a double on a shallow flyball to left-center, and took third on a wild pitch. After Explorers' reliever Chuck Lukanen struck out Ryan Khoury, Jake Kahaulelio was intentionally walked. Mason Morioka pinch hit for Jared McDonald and came back from a 1-2 count to draw a walk before Ziegler's base hit brought in Conroy from third.
The Wingnuts had gradually chipped away at a 5-2 deficit, scoring single runs in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. Kahaulelio doubled down the left field line leading off the sixth, took second on John Rodriguez's deep flyball to right-center, and scored on a groundout to third from Ziegler.
With two outs and no one on base in the seventh, Conroy walked on four pitches and went to third on a single to right by Khoury. Kahaulelio trimmed the lead to 5-4 with a groundball single through the left side that plated Conroy.
Greg Porter led off the bottom of the eighth with a line drive single to center. Porter stole second base and then scored the tying run when Wilson Batista hit a ground rule double over the left-center field fence.
Wichita nearly won the game in the bottom of the 10th on a two-out base hit to right from David Peralta. McDonald, who pinch ran for Rodriguez earlier in the inning, was thrown out at the plate by Peter Barrows to send the game to the 11th.
The Wingnuts' bullpen delivered seven shutout innings in the win. James Baker inherited runners on first and second with no outs in the top of the fifth. With the Explorers still leading 5-2, Baker retired the first three hitters to face him, and then worked a scoreless sixth. Edgar Martinez stranded runners on second and third in the seventh, while Nick Walters and Jared Simon combined for a scoreless eighth. Simon pitched around a leadoff hit batsmen in the ninth, stranding the go-ahead run on third base. Josh Dew earned the win with two shutout frames in the 10th and 11th.
Lukanen took the loss for Sioux City, allowing one earned run in one and two-thirds innings.
The Explorers took the early lead in the top of the first on a two-out, RBI single to left from Jorge Delgado.
Rodriguez answered in the bottom of the first with a two-out, solo home run off the bottom of the scoreboard in left field. Sioux City scored twice on a Mike Murphy double to left-center in the top of the second to go in front 3-1.
Ziegler homered on a deep line drive to left in the bottom of the fourth to cut Sioux City's lead to 3-2. A Barrows RBI triple and a Delgado RBI single in the fifth accounted for Sioux City's final runs.
Dumas Garcia started for the Wingnuts and took a no-decision, allowing five earned runs on nine hits in four-plus innings. Garcia walked two and struck out five.
Colin Allen took a no-decision for Sioux City, allowing four earned runs on seven hits in seven innings. Allen walked two and struck out two.
Eight of the Wingnuts' starters had at least one hit in the game. Kahaulelio had multiple hits for a fourth straight game. Ziegler's single in the 11th was his second game-ending hit of the season. Wingnuts pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts in the win.
Garcia was activated from the Disabled List prior to the game. The Wingnuts traded infielder Wilberto Ortiz to the Lincoln Saltdogs in exchange for a player to be named later.
The series continues Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. Derek Blacksher faces right-hander Nick Schumacher. Individual tickets can be purchased by calling (316) 755-SEAT, or by visiting www.selectaseat.com
For 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