'Hogs come back in middle innings, complete another home sweep
GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Through five and a third innings on Friday night, the Wichita Wingnuts held a 4-3 lead over the Grand Prairie AirHogs in large part through no fewer than five spectacular defensive plays. But after Greg Porter tied the game with a solo home run, a key defensive miscue opened the door for the AirHogs, who strolled through to complete a comeback win and a sweep of the Wingnuts, winning 10-5 at QuikTrip Park.
With the victory, the AirHogs (34-13) tied their franchise record set last month for most wins in a row at 10, and won their 17th straight at QuikTrip Park.
But like many of the games on this eight-game homestand, it was not easy. Grand Prairie starter Josh Strawn (6-0) hit Zac Mitchell with one out in the first, and John Rodriguez drilled a 2-1 pitch over the leftfield wall to give Wichita (31-15) the lead.
David Peralta then led off the second with a double, and after two strikeouts, Mike Conroy hit a groundball double down the third base line to make it 3-0. Strawn got around a walk to Rodriguez in the third, but gave up a leadoff double in the fourth to Peralta, who came around to score after a sacrifice bunt/fielder's choice and a double play.
But that was all the Wingnuts would get against Strawn, as he set the side down in order in the fifth and seventh, worked around two walks with a double play in the sixth before being lifted with two on and one out in the eighth. Griffin Bailey came on and got pinch-hitter Taylor Freeman on a popup and Peralta on a flyout to left to end the inning.
By then, the AirHogs had completed their comeback, getting a run in the fourth on a double by Bryan Frichter and a single by Brian Myrow and two in the fifth on a Frichter double before Porter's opposite-field home run tied the game.
Then came the key play, when Trent Lockwood lofted a shallow fly ball to left. Conroy came rushing in and called off shortstop Ryan Khoury, but overran the ball and dropped it. That got the key AirHogs rally started, with lefty Nick Walters called upon to relieve starter Josh Lowey (8-1).
Walters immediately through a wild pitch to send Lockwood to third, but David Thomas popped out for the second out of the inning. Chris McMurray then pinch-hit for Zane Chavez and was intentionally walked, before Walters threw another wild pitch to move McMurray to second and walked Yasutsugu Nishimoto. Up stepped lefty-hitting Keanon Simon, who got the count to 2-0 before Walters came back to even the count. The next pitch missed, and on 3-2, Simon lined one deep to right over Peralta's head for a bases-clearing triple, just the second hit Walters has allowed to a lefty in 43 at-bats this season.
McMurray began the bottom of the eighth with a solo home run off Edgar Martinez to give the AirHogs a four-run lead, and Nishimoto singled, Simon walked and Myrow knocked them both with a double to give Grand Prairie double-digit runs at home for the first time this season.
Ronnie Morales struggled a bit with his command in the ninth, walking two and allowing a run, but he got Rodriguez to line out to finish the ballgame.
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