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Wichita Wingnuts Game Notes - July 9th, 2013

July 9, 2013 - American Association (AA) Wichita Wingnuts

BIG BATS LEAD WINGNUTS TO FOURTH STRAIGHT: The Wichita Wingnuts beat the Amarillo Sox 11-4 at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium on Monday night in game three of a four-game series. Nine of Wichita's 11 runs were scored with two outs, including three home runs. Brent Clevlen hit a two-out, three-run homer in the bottom of the first, John Rodriguez added a two-out, three-run shot in the second, while CJ Ziegler hit a two-run homer with two outs in the eighth. For a third time in four games, eight different Wingnuts had at least one hit. Rodriguez's second-inning home run was the 1,500th base hit of his professional career and also moved him past 900 RBI for his career. Junior Guerra allowed four runs, two earned, in 5.0+ innings to earn the win. Daniel Bennett, Lincoln Holdzkom, and Josh Stone combined for 4.0 hitless innings of relief.

ALL-TIME AGAINST THE SOX: The Wingnuts are 21-11 all-time against the Amarillo Sox, including a 13-4 mark at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. The Sox are in their third season in the American Association. The Pensacola Pelicans moved operations to Amarillo following the 2010 season. The Amarillo Dillas were an independent team from 1994-2010, and won the final three championships in the United League. The Dillas also spent time in the Texas-Louisiana and Central Leagues. Bobby Brown enters his first season as manager of the Sox. Brown managed the North American League's Abilene Prairie Dogs in 2012 and was a .300 hitter during a 10-year playing career. Former Wingnuts' outfielder David Peralta-who hit .332 with 70 RBI as a rookie in 2012-opened the season with Amarillo and was recently signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks' organization. The Sox' pitching staff is led by Jason Johnson, who pitched 11 seasons in the Major Leagues from 1997-2008 and was a teammate of Wingnuts' manager Kevin Hooper with the Detroit Tigers in 2005.

SERIES MATCHUP: The Wingnuts are 32-18 and lead the Gary SouthShore RailCats by 1.5 games in the Central Division. The Wingnuts lost three of four to the Grand Prairie AirHogs on the road. The Sox are 29-20 and are tied for first place in the South Division with the Laredo Lemurs. Amarillo just split a four-game series with the Can-Am League's Newark Bears. The Wingnuts are first in the American Association in hitting (.302), second in pitching (3.30), and third in fielding (.978). Amarillo is second in the league in batting (.299), ninth in pitching (4.71), and 12th in defense (.963). The Wingnuts swept a three-game series from the Sox at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in late-May. Entering this series, the Sox had won 25 of their previous 32 games. The Sox had winning streaks of eight and seven games during that stretch. Amarillo has lost consecutive games just twice since May 31st .

TONIGHT'S STARTERS: The Wingnuts go with left-hander Anthony Capra who is 2-1 with a 3.99 ERA in six starts and five relief appearances. Capra took a loss last Thursday at Grand Prairie, allowing six earned runs on eight hits in 5.1 IP. Capra is 2-0 with a 2.66 ERA at home this season in four starts and two relief outings. Since joining the Wingnuts last July, Capra is 3-0 at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium with a 3.18 ERA (16 ER, 45.1 IP) in eight starts and two relief appearances. Capra has allowed one or zero earned runs in three of six starts and has allowed more than four earned runs in a start in just one of them. Capra has walked three or fewer batters in four of six starts.

Capra is 23-36 in six professional seasons with a 4.23 ERA in 118 games, 104 of them starts. Capra was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 4th round in 2008 out of Wichita State University. Capra reached Triple-A Sacramento in 2011, and has averaged 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings during his career. Capra was Oakland's Organizational Pitcher of the Year in 2009 after striking out 170 batters in 152.0 IP with a 3.20 ERA between two levels of their farm system. Capra was an All-American and a Missouri Valley Conference All-Star during his junior season in 2008, going 9-1 with a 3.54 ERA and helping Wichita State reach the NCAA Super Regionals. Capra is the 10th former Shocker to play for the Wingnuts.

The Sox go with right-hander Joe Newby who is 3-3 with a 4.00 ERA in nine starts. Newby ranks third in the American Association with 58 strikeouts. Newby earned a win vs. the Can-Am League's Newark Bears last Thursday, allowing two earned runs on nine hits in 6.0 IP. Newby struck out seven and did not allow a walk. Newby is 3-1 with a 3.56 ERA on the road this season in five starts. Newby has allowed three or fewer earned runs in six of nine starts and has allowed more than four earned runs in just one of them. Newby has walked three or fewer batters in six of nine starts. Newby has pitched at least 6.0 innings in six of nine starts and has pitched at least 5.0 innings in all of them. Newby took a loss at Wichita on May 28th, allowing six earned runs on 10 hits in 5.0 IP.

Newby returns to professional baseball after missing the 2012 season. Newby last pitched in 2011 for the Los Angeles Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque. Newby is 26-27 with two saves and a 3.81 ERA in eight professional seasons in which he has averaged 7.3 strikeouts per nine innings and only 0.4 home runs. Newby originally signed with the Oakland Athletics out of Colorado State University-Pueblo in 2004. Newby also pitched for the Seattle Mariners' organization, reaching Triple-A Tacoma in 2009. This is Newby's second season in independent baseball having pitched for the Atlantic League's Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in 2010 before signing with the Dodgers.

'J-ROD' REACHES MAJOR MILESTONE: Wingnuts' DH John Rodriguez hit a two-out, three-run home run in the bottom of the second inning on July 8th vs. Amarillo for the 1,500th base hit of his 17-year professional career. The home run also have Rodriguez 902 career RBI. Rodriguez trails Josh Horn (2009-11) by six RBI for the Wingnuts' franchise record (125).

WINGNUTS RE-SIGN HOLDZKOM: The Wingnuts re-signed RHP Lincoln Holdzkom on Monday. Holdzkom made 15 appearances earlier in the season. Wichita released RHP Ben Graham.

HINSON SETS FRANCHISE WINS RECORD: Ryan Hinson set a Wingnuts' franchise record with his 27th win on July 6th vs. Amarillo. Hinson threw the first complete game shutout of his career, allowing six hits and no walks with five strikeouts. Derek Blacksher (2009, 2011-12) held the previous record with 26 wins. Hinson surpassed Blacksher for the Wingnuts' career strikeouts record when he fanned five in a win vs. Gary SouthShore on June 19th .

KHOURY BREAKS TEAM STEALS RECORD: Wingnuts' shortstop Ryan Khoury set a franchise record with his 47th stolen base on July 6th vs. Amarillo. Josh Horn (2009-11) held the previous record with 46. Last year, Khoury established a Wingnuts' single-season record with 37 stolen bases, surpassing current manager Kevin Hooper's mark of 34 set in 2008.

NIEVES STAYING HOT: Wingnuts' third baseman Abel Nieves leads the American Association in batting average (.389) and is 63 for 139 (.453) in his last 37 games with 31 runs scored, 12 doubles, and 18 walks. Nieves had a 19-game hitting streak from June 8th -26th (38 for 76, .500) which ranks tied for the second- longest in team history (Greg Porter 2009 and Jorge Delgado 2010). The team record is held by Josh Horn, who hit safely in 20 consecutive games from August 29th, 2009 through June 5th, 2010. Nieves finished second in the Frontier League in batting average last year, hitting .320 for the Joliet Slammers. On May 27th vs. Amarillo, Nieves picked up the 500th hit of his eight-year professional career. Nieves reached the Triple-A level three times with the Los Angeles Angels' organization.

KHOURY SETTING THE TABLE: Wingnuts' shortstop Ryan Khoury has reached base in 44 of 49 games this season with a hit, walk, or hit by pitch. Khoury reached base in 87 of 100 games in 2012, and was named the American Association's Defensive Player of the Year. Khoury also ranked in the top-four in the league in runs scored, walks, and stolen bases. On June 26th vs. Laredo, Khoury missed his first game since joining the Wingnuts last year. Including the postseason, Khoury had started 145 consecutive games both at shortstop and in the leadoff spot, and missed just five total innings in the field during that stretch. Prior to June 26th, the last time a Wingnuts' player other than Khoury started at shortstop was September 4th, 2011 when Josh Horn started Game Four of the Division Series vs. Grand Prairie. Jimmy Mojica was the last Wingnuts' player to bat leadoff, which was also on September 4th, 2011.

ZIEGLER CLEANING THE TABLE: Wichita Wingnuts' first baseman CJ Ziegler ranks first in the American Association in both home runs (17) and RBI (55). Ziegler tied a Wingnuts' single-game record with seven RBI on June 24th vs. Laredo. Last season, Ziegler ranked tied for third in the American Association with 18 home runs in just 58 games played. Ziegler has helped his team reach the playoffs in each of his first five professional seasons.

ZIEGLER NEW HOME RUN LEADER: Wingnuts' first baseman CJ Ziegler hit a solo home run on June 14th vs. St. Paul in the opener of a double header. It was Ziegler's ninth home run of 2013, and his 27th in a Wingnuts' uniform over the last two years, setting a new franchise record. Ryan Patterson (2010-11) held the previous record with 26 home runs.

TOUGH LOSSES: Of the Wingnuts' 18 losses this season, 11 have been by one run, two by two runs, and three by three runs. Wichita has held a lead at some point in 11 of their 18 losses.

BACK-TO-BACK: John Rodriguez and CJ Ziegler hit back-to-back home runs on consecutive pitches in the bottom of the third inning in game one of a double header on Friday, June 14th vs. St. Paul. It was the first time the Wingnuts hit back-to-back home runs since July 26th, 2011 when Josh Horn and Brent Clevlen did it vs. Fargo-Moorhead. Ziegler and Clevlen homered on back-to-back pitches on Monday, June 24th vs. Laredo.

GRAND SLAM TIME: On Tuesday, June 11th at Winnipeg, Abel Nieves hit the Wingnuts' first grand slam home run since August 27th, 2011 when Juan Richardson hit a bases loaded 'big fly' in a 19-2 rout at El Paso. Wichita hit .309 as a team with the bases loaded last year, and was hitting .400 with the sacks full going into June 11th of this season, but had gone 126 consecutive games without a grand slam. CJ Ziegler hit the Wingnuts' second grand slam of 2013 on June 28th vs. Sioux City.

PITCHING STRONG: The Wingnuts rank second in the American Association with a 3.30 team ERA. The Wingnuts ranked first in ERA in 2009 and 2010 while finishing third in 2011.

SWINGING STRONG: The Wingnuts rank first in the American Association with a .302 team batting average. Over the last two seasons, the Wingnuts have finished first and second respectively in the league batting race.

GLOVE WORK: The Wingnuts are third in the American Association with a .978 fielding percentage. Wichita has led the league in defense in three of their first five years of existence (2008, 2009, 2012), and finished second in 2011. The Wingnuts hold the American Association record for team fielding percentage at .980, which they accomplished in both 2009 and 2012.

HINSON NAMED PITCHER OF THE MONTH: Wingnuts' left-hander Ryan Hinson has been named the American Association's Pitcher of the Month for June. Hinson was 5-1 with a 1.41 ERA in six starts last month. Hinson allowed two or fewer earned runs in all six of his outings, and logged at least 7.0 IP in five of them. One June 19th vs. Gary SouthShore, Hinson struck out five batters to become the Wingnuts' all-time leader in that category. In his following start on June 24th vs. Laredo, Hinson pitched 6.0 shutout innings to tie Derek Blacksher (2009, 2011-12) for the most wins in franchise history (26). Hinson becomes the first pitcher in team history to earn Pitcher of the Month honors. CJ Ziegler (June 2012) and Greg Porter (June 2009) have won Batter of the Month since the Wingnuts started play in 2008.

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE: The Wingnuts are 173-100 (.634) all-time at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. It is the highest home winning percentage for any American Association team since the Wingnuts began play in 2008.

FRONT LINERS PROTECTING THE HOME FRONT: Third-year Wingnuts' starter Ryan Hinson has excelled when pitching at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. Including the postseason, Hinson is 18-7 with a 2.84 ERA (62 ER, 196.1 IP) over 29 starts and two relief appearances. Junior Guerra-who is in his second overall season with the Wingnuts-is 10-2 with a 3.05 ERA (39 ER, 115.0 IP) all-time at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in 17 starts.

ALL HE DOES IS WIN: Wingnuts' fifth-year manager Kevin Hooper is 254-188 (.575) since taking over in 2009. Hooper has guided the Wingnuts to four consecutive winning seasons, as well as three playoff berths. Hooper's .575 winning percentage is the highest among American Association managers over the last five years. His 254 wins also rank first during that stretch. Hooper was a member of a team that made the playoffs in eight different seasons over his 10-year playing career. Hooper was also a member of Wichita State University's College World Series team in 1996. The Shockers reached the NCAA tournament in all four of Hooper's collegiate seasons, and posted a composite .815 winning percentage.

ALUMNI REPORT: RHP Matt Nevarez (2011-12) has a 2.31 ERA for the Double-A Southern League's Montgomery Biscuits (Tampa Bay) with 13 strikeouts in 11.2 IP. RHP James Hoyt (2012) was recently promoted to the Double-A Southern League's Mississippi Braves (Atlanta) and has a 1.74 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 10.1 IP. Hoyt posted a 4.89 ERA with 72 strikeouts in just 49.2 IP earlier this year for the High-A Carolina League's Lynchburg Hillcats. LHP and Wingnuts' co- owner Nate Robertson (2012) has a 3.06 ERA in 35.1 IP for the Triple-A Pacific Coast League's Round Rock Express (Texas). RHP Jon Link was purchased by the Detroit Tigers in June 19th and is 2-1 with a 1.47 ERA in four starts for the Double-A Eastern League's Erie SeaWolves.

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