Bullpen Shines as Wichita Knocks off X's
SIOUX CITY, Iowa - 4.1 scoreless innings from the Wichita Wingnuts bullpen made an early barrage of runs stand up, as Wichita held off the Sioux City Explorers 6-2 on Monday night at Mercy Field.
Wichita starter Tyler Kane lasted just 4.2 innings, forcing manager Brent Clevlen to go to his bullpen early. He called first upon Bowen (2-1), who set a new season high with 2.1 scoreless innings. He retired Dylan Kelly on a fly out with two in scoring position in the fifth, then navigated a single and a hit by pitch over the next two frames to keep Wichita (45-29) in front.
The Wingnuts grabbed a second-inning lead on a solo home run from Angel Reyes, his fourth since joining Wichita seven games ago. Logan Watkins doubled the lead in the third with an RBI single, one of three hits on the night for the Wingnuts leadoff man.
Nick Rotola ensured the Wingnuts stayed in front with a highlight-reel grab to end the third, leaping above the left field fence to rob Jay Baum of what would have been a game-tying two-run homer.
Wichita struck for three unearned runs in the fourth, all with two outs against Sioux City starter Ian McKinney (1-2). After Rotola reached on an error to prolong the frame, Leo Vargas, Watkins and Zach Nehrir all delivered run-scoring singles to extend the lead to 5-0.
Sioux City (56-18) answered back with single runs in the fourth and fifth, scoring on a Dylan Kelly RBI single and a Kane wild pitch. But as was the case all night, the Explorers could never find the big hit with runners in scoring position, as the X's stranded 13 runners, including five innings where multiple men were left aboard.
Wichita got an important insurance run in the sixth on another RBI single from Nehrir that made it 6-2. Boyle worked a quick and easy eighth, but ran into trouble in the ninth on a pair of singles and a walk that loaded the bases. After Boyle struck out Baum looking on a 3-2 pitch, Tillman came on to record his league-leading 20th save by getting pinch-hitter David Kerian on a fly to right.
The Wingnuts continue their series with the Explorers on Tuesday night. Travis Banwart (5-3, 2.72) starts for Wichita, while Sioux City will counter with fellow righty Luis Mateo (9-3, 4.28). First pitch from Mercy Field 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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