The Wichita Wingnuts rode their Tuesday night battery of Jon Link and Chris McMurray to a 7-1 win over in-state rival Kansas City at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. Link contributed his fifth straight quality start in limiting the T-Bones to one run in 7.0 innings, while the catcher McMurray went 3-4 and drove in three runs.
The Wingnuts (18-8) struck first against Wichita native, and T-Bones’ starter, Matt Smith in the bottom of the second inning. Brent Clevlen doubled to start the frame and moved over to third on a deep fly ball by the next batter Chris McClendon. McMurray took advantage of the opportunity by grounding deep into the hole at short to allow Clevlen to score and give the Nuts a 1-0 lead.
After breezing through the first two innings, Link allowed a run in the third, but rebounded to strand the bases loaded and preserve a tie. The right-hander walked T.J. Mittelstaedt and Robby Kuzdale with a groundout by Brian Erie sandwiched in between. Bryan Sabatella singled to load the bases with one out for David Espinosa. The left fielder grounded a ball softly to second and Jake Kahaulelio’s only play was to first, so the tying run crossed home plate. After another walk to Danny Richar, Link got Nick Schwaner to fly out to left and end the inning.
Link would not allow another run in the game as he held the T-Bones (12-13) to just a pair of hits and let one more runner reach scoring position in his outing. Link (3-1) lowered his ERA to 3.15 and continued an impressive start to the season for the league’s best pitching staff. The Wingnuts have now received an outing of at least 6.0 innings by their starting pitcher in 21 of the first 26 games, with 17 of them being quality starts.
The Wingnuts grabbed the lead at 2-1 in the fifth inning on an RBI single by Colt Loehrs that scored McMurray from second after he had singled and stole second base. That lead held until the seventh when Wichita finally hung a crooked number on Smith, once again courtesy of the Wingnuts’ backstop. With one out McClendon singled and then McMurray jumped all over a 2-2 fastball and laced it over the wall in left to extend the advantage to 4-1.
The home team used a combination of speed and timely hitting to add three more in the eighth inning against reliever Jared Messer. David Amberson reached on an infield single prior to a bloop single by Ryan Khoury. With runners on the corners Carlo Testa grounded into a run-scoring fielder’s choice to move the lead to 5-1. Kahaulelio then hit a chopper to short, where Vladimir Frias fielded and threw low and wide to first. The ball escaped Schwaner and rolled into foul territory while Testa raced around the bases and scored. With Kahaulelio at third, McClendon lofted a sacrifice fly to left to score the final run of the game which made it 7-1.
Patrick Mincey and Alan Williams each worked a scoreless inning in relief of Link. Khoury and Clevlen joined McMurray in the multi-hit club, while McClendon extended his hit streak at the outset of his Wingnuts’ career to eight games.
The Wingnuts and T-Bones are back at it on Wednesday night with Wichita sending LHP Anthony Capra (3-2) to the mound to face off with RHP Daniel Barone (3-0) of KC. It will be the third edition of Way-Back Wednesday at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium as the team celebrates the 1960’s. General admission tickets will cost just one dollar and many events throughout the night will have a 60’s feel to them. 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.