WICHITA, KS (June 21, 2014) – It only made sense that a crazy game that featured five lead changes would end in even crazier fashion on Saturday night at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. The Wichita Wingnuts were able to claw back from three different deficits to earn an 8-7 walk-off win over the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks. Brent Clevlen scored the winning run in the ninth inning when RedHawks pitcher Nate Garcia threw two straight wild pitches in an attempted intentional walk of J.T. Wise.
By the time the dust had settled on this one, starting pitchers Brian Ernst of Fargo-Moorhead (20-15) and Anthony Capra of Wichita (25-11) had been spectators from the dugout for quite some time. Each of them faced early-inning struggles that lead to their pitch count becoming inflated from the get-go. Capra was subject to an unearned run scoring in the very first inning when Zach Penprase doubled and Ronnie Bourquin hit a hard grounder that went through first baseman Colt Loehrs’ legs and made it 1-0.
The teams traded the lead and a pair of runs back and forth for the next three half-innings. The Wingnuts took a 2-1 advantage on a couple of sacrifice flies by Carlo Testa and Chris McMurray in the bottom of the first. That lead was short-lived as the RedHawks answered with two of their own on a two-run home run from designated hitter Tim Alberts to re-claim the lead 3-2 after the top of the second. The Wingnuts countered with two more in the bottom half on a two-out, two-run blast to left by Ryan Khoury that gave Wichita a 4-3 advantage.
Both teams failed to keep up the frenetic pace in the third inning, but Fargo was right back at it afterwards, scoring three combined runs between the fourth and fifth innings to move ahead 6-4. Capra concluded his outing after 5.0 innings were up. The left-hander had allowed six runs, four earned, on six hits with two strikeouts and three walks.
The Nuts got one back in the sixth on a solo home run by Wise, which was his sixth of the season and third of the series. Per the norm in this one, RedHawks’ first baseman C.J. Retherford followed Wise’s shot with one of his own in the seventh off of Mike Zouzalik. Retherford’s fourth home run of the year made it 7-5.
At that point, the bullpen of the Wingnuts stymied as Daniel Bennett and Matt Nevarez (1-0) each worked a scoreless inning to shut out Fargo-Moorhead the rest of the way. That allowed the Wichita offense to chip away with lone runs in the seventh and eighth to eventually tie the game at seven. Clevlen delivered a clutch two-out single to make it 7-6 after seven and then David Amberson took a bases loaded free pass from Garcia (0-1) to knot the game.
In the fateful final inning, Clevlen led off with a ground-rule double to deep right that sailed over the head of Anthony Kaskadden. After McMurray was retired on a failed bunt attempt, the wackiness began. With catcher Petey Paramore standing with his right arm extended, the universal signal for intentional walk, Wise watched as the first pitch from Garcia sailed wide and under Paramore’s glove to the backstop, allowing Clevlen to move to third with one out. The Redhawks’ pitcher threw low on the very next pitch and Paramore once again couldn’t knock it down, as the ball ricocheted off of his mitt and to the screen. Clevlen was ready and flew down the line to slide into home plate with the winning run.
The win was the first of the walk-off variety for the Wingnuts in 2014. Colt Loehrs was hit on the hand by a pitch in the second inning and eventually left the game because of the injury. As a result, the short-handed Wingnuts had to move the designated hitter, Wise, to first base and let their pitchers hit for the second time in just over a week. Capra, Jason Van Skike, and Justin Klipp all received a chance at the plate and combined to go 0-3. Khoury, Clevlen, and Wise each finished with two hits.
The series finale will take place on Sunday at 2:05 p.m. as the Wingnuts hope to extend their winning streak to six. RHP Tim Brown (5-1) takes the hill for Wichita and faces RHP Drew Bowlin (1-0) of Fargo- Moorhead.