The Wichita Wingnuts (59-41) defeated the St. Paul Saints (52-48) 10-4 in their regular season finale at Midway Stadium on Monday afternoon.
It was Wichita's 59th win of the season, setting a new franchise record.
Second baseman Jake Kahaulelio went 2 for 5 in the win to seal the Wingnuts' third batting title over their first five years. Kahaulelio finished at .372 (89 for 239), eight percentage points in front of Grand Prairie's Brian Myrow (115 for 316, .364).
The Wingnuts overcame an early 3-0 deficit in the win. In the top of the second, Wichita loaded the bases with no outs and scratched out their first run when Jessie Mier was hit by a pitch. Two batters later, Steve Stanley lined a single to left field that scored the tying runs.
John Rodriguez led off the top of the third with a single to right field. With two outs and Wilson Batista at the plate, Rodriguez stole second and scored the go-ahead run when Batista doubled off the top of the left field wall.
With two outs and no one on base in the fourth, Ryan Khoury doubled down the left field line, stole third base, and scored on a throwing error by Saints' catcher Jon Hurst. Khoury finished the regular season having started all 100 games at shortstop and in the leadoff spot in Wichita's batting order.
St. Paul pulled within 5-4 in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single from Anthony Claggett. With runners on the corners and one out, Wichita starter Anthony Capra worked out of further trouble when Jake Krause was tagged out short of home plate on a suicide squeeze attempt for the second out. Capra then struck out Jim Rapoport to end the inning.
Capra earned the win, allowing three earned runs on eight hits in five innings. Capra walked two and struck out six.
An RBI double from Batista and an RBI single from Mier in the top of the fifth extended the lead to 7-4. After facing first and second with no outs in the bottom of the fifth, Capra and four Wingnuts' relievers combined to retire the final 14 batters to face them.
Ryan Hinson, James Baker, James Hoyt, and Edgar Martinez each contributed a perfect inning of relief.
With two outs and no one on base in the top of the seventh, Mason Morioka reached on an infield single and took second on a throwing error by third baseman Ronnie Bourquin. After Mike Conroy walked, Stanley singled through the right side to score Morioka with the Wingnuts' eighth run.
Kahaulelio singled up the middle leading off the top of the eighth, stole second, and came home on a two-run homer to right by Rodriguez. Rodriguez finished the game with three hits, and went 10 for 15 in the three-game series.
St. Paul scored three runs in the bottom of the first against Capra on an RBI triple from Adam Frost, and RBI singles from Joseph Spiers and Miles Durham.
Brian Gump started and took the loss for the Saints, allowing seven runs, five earned, on nine hits in four and two-thirds innings. Gump walked three and struck out four.
The Wingnuts open the American Association Division Series on Wednesday night against the Laredo Lemurs. First pitch at Uni-Trade Stadium is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Josh Lowey takes the mound for the Wingnuts. All the action can be heard locally on Oldies 92.7 KWME and worldwide at www.kleyam.com
Wichita will host Game Three, and the "if necessary" Games Four and Five of the Division Series next Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. All start times are at 7:05 p.m. For information on playoff tickets, call the Wingnuts' office at (316) 264-NUTS, or visit the Wingnuts' official website at www.wichitawingnuts.com