July 24, 2014 - The Wichita Wingnuts played their final home game for the next 21 days on Thursday night against the Laredo Lemurs at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. Unfortunately, the Wingnuts will begin their annual NBC World Series road marathon carrying a season-high three game losing streak after the Lemurs held on for a 5-4 victory in the series finale.
Justin Klipp (6-3) was facing the Laredo lineup for a third time this season, and after a one, two, three first inning, the Lemurs took an early lead in the second. Travis Denker and Denis Phipps started the frame with back-to-back base hits. After Klipp was able to get two fly ball outs to left field, Carlos Ramirez earned a walk to load the bases. The nine-hitter Harrison Kain, who would have a huge impact on the game, hit a looping line drive to right that sailed over the head of David Espinosa at first and plated the first two runs of the game.
Laredo (35-28) would also score a pair of runs against Klipp in the fourth inning, but impeccable defense nearly prevented one of them from coming home. Phipps blasted a leadoff solo home run to stretch the lead to 3-0 and was barely back in the dugout when John Alonso, the next hitter, doubled. A fielder’s choice by Byron Wiley moved him to third and brought the Wichita (44-21) defense in. Ramirez grounded a ball to the left side that Ryan Khoury dove for, gloved, and fired to first to not only prevent a run, but also record the second out. Kain stepped to the plate and lined a ball to the gap in left center that Jake Luce, in his first game, made an impressive diving attempt for. The ball bounded in and out of his glove and fell to the turf for an RBI double, Kain’s third RBI in two at bats. The third baseman finished 3-4 with three RBI on the game.
The Wingnuts closed the gap against Josh Strawn (5-7), a pitcher they had fared well against in recent times, in the fifth and sixth innings. Luce was hit by a pitch to reach and quickly stole second base. After both Taylor Oldham and Khoury grounded out, Chris McClendon lined a single up the middle that scored Luce and put the Nuts on the board. Jake Kahaulelio bounced a ball deep into the hole at short that Devin Goodwin fielded and attempted to make a spectacular throw to first on. The ball sailed high and into the crowd, forcing in McClendon and cutting the lead to 4-2. In the sixth, Chris McMurray brought home David Espinosa with an RBI single that pulled Wichita within one.
Klipp handed the ball to Mike Zouzalik for the eighth, finishing his night having allowed four runs on eight hits over six innings. Zouzalik worked a clean frame and then passed the torch to Alex Hinshaw for the eighth. Hinshaw allowed runners to reach the corners with nobody out, before Brent Clevlen dropped a fly ball in center that brought in the runner from third on a fielder’s choice putout at second. The miscue was costly because the next hitter bounced into an inning-ending double play.
Carlo Testa brought his team back to within a lone run on a moon shot blast to right field in the bottom of the eighth against Tyler Pearson. The home run was his sixth of the season. After Matt Nevarez retired the side in order in the top of the ninth, the Wingnuts could not muster a rally against fill-in closer Caleb Graham, who allowed just a two-out single.
Testa paced the Wingnuts attack by going a perfect 4-4 at the dish with the home run and inherent RBI. McClendon wrapped up his day with a trio of base knocks and Khoury added two of his own. The three players accounted for nine of the team’s 12 hits in the game.
The first of 17 straight road games takes place in Amarillo on Friday night at 7:05 p.m. RHP and all-star Jason Van Skike (8-2) will throw in the series opener for the Wingnuts. 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.