Banwart Superb Again, Wingnuts Inch Closer to T-Bones
GRAND PRAIRIE, Tex. - Travis Banwart showed why he is the frontrunner for American Association Pitcher of the Year on Friday night, tossing seven shutout innings to boost the Wichita Wingnuts to an 8-0 win over the Texas AirHogs at AirHogs Stadium.
The victory, combined with the Kansas City T-Bones 13-11 loss to the Winnipeg Goldeyes, means that the Wingnuts are now just one game behind Kansas City for the second playoff spot in the American Association South Division. The Wingnuts currently hold the tie-breaker over the T-Bones, five games to four.
Banwart (7-4) was untouchable all evening, striking out seven for a fourth consecutive start and allowing just four singles and one walk. The AirHogs (24-66) did not get a runner to second base against him, as the righty became the first Wingnuts hurler to record 100 strikeouts in a season since Jon Link accomplished the feat in 2014.
Wichita's offense got off to a slow start, mustering only one run through six innings against Texas starter Zhang Haonan (0-3). That one tally came courtesy of a solo home run from Tony Thomas in the second, the first of two long balls on the night for Thomas.
The Wingnuts (56-35) finally came through with a pair of clutch hits in the seventh. With two on and two outs, Abel Nieves rammed a two-run double off the right field wall to extend Wichita's lead to 3-0, then Angel Reyes followed with an RBI single for a 4-0 cushion.
Thomas hammered another solo shot in the eighth, his first multi-homer game of the season. The two blasts give Thomas a total of 23 on the season, moving him into second place in Wingnuts single-season franchise history.
In the ninth, Wichita added three more. Logan Watkins lifted a sacrifice fly and then Reyes delivered the knockout blow with a two-run double for the game's final margin.
Felix Carvallo tossed two scoreless innings to close out the game, securing Wichita's seventh shutout of the season. The Wingnuts did not strike out in the game, the first time in 2018 they have not gone down on strikes in a contest.
The Wingnuts and AirHogs conclude their series on Saturday night. Casey Harman (10-4, 3.78) gets the ball for Wichita, while Texas will counter with fellow lefty Sean Stutzman (0-3, 8.20). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM, and will be broadcast on 1410 AM/93.9 FM KGSO, TuneIn and americanassociationbaseball.tv.
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.
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American Association Stories from August 24, 2018
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