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Wichita Wingnuts Game Notes - July 26th, 2013

July 26, 2013 - American Association (AA) Wichita Wingnuts

WINGNUTS TAKE TWO FROM SOX: The Wichita Wingnuts picked up two wins over the Amarillo Sox at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium on Wednesday. Wichita won 8-4 in the continuation of Tuesday night's suspended game and took a 4-1 decision in the regularly scheduled contest. In the opener, Jake Kahaulelio snapped a 4-4 tie with a grand slam home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. It was the first walk-off grand slam in team history and the first walk-off home run since CJ Ziegler's 10th -inning solo shot on June 2nd, 2012 vs. Grand Prairie. Daniel Bennett and Nick Walters combined for 3.0 perfect relief innings, with Walters earning the win. The teams battled to a 4-4 tie after six innings on Tuesday before play was suspended due to rain.

In the nightcap, Junior Guerra tossed 7.0 shutout innings to earn the victory. Guerra struck out seven and walked three. Ryan Khoury hit a leadoff solo home run in the bottom of the first and the Wingnuts held the lead through the end of the night. Abel Nieves added a two-run single with two outs in the bottom of the third. Lincoln Holdzkom worked a scoreless top of the eighth, while Josh Dew recorded the final three outs to finish the win.

ALL-TIME AGAINST THE AIRHOGS: The Wingnuts are 11-13 all-time against the Grand Prairie AirHogs during the regular season, including a 3-11 mark at QuikTrip Park. The AirHogs beat the Wingnuts in four games in the 2011 Division Series en route to winning the American Association championship. The AirHogs joined the American Association with the Wingnuts in 2008 and reached the American Association Championship Series under current Laredo Lemurs' manager Pete Incaviglia. Ricky Van Asselberg is in his third year as AirHogs' skipper. Van Asselberg led Grand Prairie during their 2011 championship run, and also guided the Shreveport-Bossier Captains to an American Association title in 2010. Van Asselberg has won four championships in his first seven years as a professional manager, having won back-to-back United League crowns with the Alexandria Aces in 2006 and 2007. Late Wingnuts' bench coach Brian Rose served in the same capacity for the AirHogs during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Former Major Leaguer Brian Myrow returns for a second year in Grand Prairie. Former Wingnuts' relief pitcher Justin Dowdy is also in his second year with the AirHogs, and is playing under Van Asselberg for a third different team in his career. Derek Blacksher, who entered this season as the Wingnuts' all-time leader in wins and strikeouts, leads the AirHogs' rotation.

SERIES MATCHUP: The Wingnuts are 44-21 and lead the Gary SouthShore RailCats by 6.0 games in the Central Division. Wichita just won two of three from the Amarillo Sox. Grand Prairie is 34-29 and trails the Laredo Lemurs by 1.0 game in the South Division. The AirHogs are 3.0 games back of the RailCats in the wild card race. The Wingnuts are second in the American Association in hitting (.294), first in pitching (3.12), and third in fielding (.978). The AirHogs are tied for eighth in batting (.270), sixth in pitching (4.28), and tied for ninth in defense (.972). The AirHogs took three of four from the Wingnuts at QuikTrip Park earlier this month. Grand Prairie visits Wichita in late- August.

TONIGHT'S STARTERS: The Wingnuts open their 16-game road trip with left-hander Anthony Capra who is 3-2 with a 4.47 ERA in nine starts and five relief appearances. Capra took a loss vs. Lincoln last Saturday, allowing four earned runs on three hits over 5.0 IP. Capra struck out eight. Capra ranks 13th in the American Association in strikeouts (62), and first among active pitchers in batting average against (.209). Capra is 1-1 with a 5.23 ERA on the road this season in three starts and three relief outings. Capra is 3-2 as a starting pitcher with a 4.96 ERA (25 ER, 45.1 IP). Capra has allowed four or fewer earned runs in eight of nine starts. Capra has allowed five or fewer hits in seven of nine starts. Capra has pitched at least 5.0 innings in seven of nine starts. Capra took a loss at Grand Prairie on July 4th, allowing six earned runs on eight hits in 5.1 IP.

Capra is 24-37 in six professional seasons with a 4.27 ERA in 121 games, 107 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 8.7 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 AirHogs have not yet announced their starting pitcher for Friday's game.

NBC TRIP IS HERE AGAIN: The Wingnuts' annual NBC road trip begins Friday, July 26th at Grand Prairie. This year's trip spans 16 games over 17 days and totals 4,633 miles from start to finish via bus and plane. The Wingnuts face Grand Prairie and El Paso before flying to the east coast. Wichita then takes on three Can-Am League teams, including Newark, Rockland, and Ne w Jersey. Since Kevin Hooper took over as manager in 2009, the Wingnuts have fared well on the annual excursion. Wichita was 9-7 in 2009, 7-5 in 2010, 7-6 in 2011, and 9-6 in 2012.

BACKGROUND ON THE NBC WORLD SERIES: The National Baseball Congress World Series is the nation's largest amateur tournament, and has been played at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in Wichita, KS every year since 1935. Hall of Famer Satchell Paige helped bring the event into prominence during its first year and still holds the tournament record for strikeouts (60). Paige had his number "17" retired at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium during last year's World Series. Since the 1970s, the tournament has been mostly comprised of college summer league teams. Games are played throughout the day for two weeks, including "Baseball 'Round the Clock" (17 games in 56 hours) during the tournament's halfway point. Former Major Leaguers that have appeared in the NBC World Series include Tom Seaver, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols, and Tim Lincecum. Wingnuts that have played in the tournament include Kevin Hooper, Luke Robertson, Anthony Capra, Josh Stone, and Ryan Scoles. Stone was the tournament's Pitcher of the Year in 2012 for the El Dorado (KS) Broncos.

WINGNUTS ROSTER MOVES: The Wingnuts acquired catcher Johnny Bowden from the United League's Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings in exchange for cash on Monday. Bowden hit .318 with nine RBI in 39 games played and has thrown out 29% of opposing base stealers over six professional seasons. Wichita also signed rookie outfielder Jonathan Davis. Davis hit .302 as a senior this past spring at Kansas State University with five home runs and 42 RBI in 63 games played. To make room, Wichita released catcher Scott Dalrymple, and placed outfielder David Amberson on the Inactive List.

BEAIRD COLLECTS FIRST PRO HITS: Rookie outfielder Madison Beaird doubled and tripled in Sunday's win vs. Lincoln for the first two hits of his professional career. Beaird also scored two runs. Beaird was signed prior to Saturday's game after Colt Loehrs was removed from the Wingnuts' roster due to injury. Beaird hit .295 as a senior at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith this past spring and most recently played for the Walter Johnson League's Kansas Cannons where he was a teammate of Wingnuts' starting pitcher Ryan Scoles. Beaird is the third player to make his professional debut with the Wingnuts this season and the 31st all-time.

NIEVES PACING THE LEAGUE: Wingnuts' third baseman Abel Nieves leads the American Association in batting average (.368). Wichita has had a player win the batting title in three of its first five seasons. Kevin Hooper won by 40 points in 2008 at .373, Greg Porter topped the league with a .372 mark in 2009, and Jake Kahaulelio finished first with a .372 average in 2012. 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 57 of 64 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: Wingnuts' first baseman CJ Ziegler is tied for first in the American Association in home runs (18) and ranks first in RBI (64). 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.

PITCHING STRONG: The Wingnuts rank first in the American Association with a 3.12 team ERA. The Wingnuts ranked first in ERA in 2009 and 2010 while finishing third in 2011.

SWINGING STRONG: The Wingnuts rank second in the American Association with a .294 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.

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE: The Wingnuts are 180-103 (.636) 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.

SCORELESS BALL: The Wingnuts have posted seven shutouts as a team this season. The franchise record for shutouts in a single season is nine, set in both 2010 and 2011.

COMPLETE ME: The Wingnuts' pitching staff is tied for the league lead with five complete games. Wichita's club record for complete games in a single season is seven, set in both 2009 and 2010.

TOUGH LOSSES: Of the Wingnuts' 21 losses this season, 12 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 21 losses.

GUERRA PROTECTING THE HOME FRONT: Wingnuts' right-hander Junior Guerra has excelled when pitching at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. Guerra is 11-3 with a 2.93 ERA (42 ER, 129.0 IP) all-time in Wichita over 18 starts.

'J-ROD' REACHES MAJOR MILESTONES: 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. On July 18th vs. Lincoln, Rodriguez set the Wingnuts' franchise record for RBI (126) with a two-out, RBI double in the bottom of the fifth inning. Josh Horn (2009-11) held the previous team record with 125 RBI.

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.

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.

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. They were the first back-to-back home runs for the Wingnuts since July 26th, 2011 when Josh Horn and Brent Clevlen accomplished the feat 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 in 2012, and was hitting .400 with the sacks full going into June 11th of this year, 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.

ALL HE DOES IS WIN: Wingnuts' fifth-year manager Kevin Hooper is 266-191 (.582) since taking over in 2009. Hooper has guided the Wingnuts to four consecutive winning seasons, as well as three playoff berths. Hooper's .582 winning percentage is the highest among American Association managers over the last five years. His 266 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 4.41 ERA with 16 strikeouts in 16.1 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 3.69 ERA in 39.0 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 went 3-1 with a 1.13 ERA in five starts for the Double-A Eastern League's Erie SeaWolves. Link was recently promoted to Triple-A Toledo and is 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA in two starts. LHP Ryan Hinson was purchased by the Atlanta Braves on July 11th and is 0-1 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts for the High-A Carolina League's Lynchburg Hillcats.

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