Two-Out Hits Back Cooper as Wingnuts Clip Cleburne
CLEBURNE, Tex. - Jordan Cooper struck out a career-best ten hitters and the Wichita Wingnuts got big two-out hits from Logan Watkins and Zach Nehrir to scrap past the Cleburne Railroaders 3-1 on Friday night at The Depot at Cleburne Station.
Cooper's previous season-high for strikeouts in a game was seven, but the right-hander recovered from a first inning leadoff home run to toss 6.2 strong innings. Cooper (9-5) ended his outing by retiring 14 of the last 15 hitters that faced him, allowing five hits while walking just one.
After Angel Rosa's first inning solo shot gave Cleburne (25-52) the early 1-0 edge, Railroaders starter Patrick Mincey held the Wingnuts off the board for the next three innings. Mincey entered the game 0-9 with a 6.52 ERA, but it wasn't until the fifth when Wichita (48-29) dented the scoreboard for the first time. With two outs and nobody on, Leo Vargas laid down a bunt that Mincey fielded but threw wildly to first for a two-base error. On the next pitch, Watkins drilled an RBI triple to left center that tied the game at 1-1.
The unearned run would prove to be the only one of the night allowed by Mincey, who took a no-decision by working six innings, striking out six and walking three while surrendering four hits.
Nehrir delivered the biggest hit of the night for the Wingnuts in the seventh, slamming a 1-2 pitch from Cleburne reliever Roman Gomez (0-5) over the fence in left for a solo homer and a 2-1 Wichita lead. It was the sixth home run of the season for Nehrir and his first since July 3.
Wichita got a critical insurance run in the top of the ninth. With two outs, Watkins and Nehrir executed a double steal, and Cleburne catcher Paul Ludden airmailed the throw to third down the left field line. Watkins scampered to the plate to produce the game's final run.
Daniel Tillman battled uncharacteristic control issues in the bottom of the ninth, issuing a four-pitch walk and then falling behind KC Huth 3-1. Huth smacked the next offering on the ground to Abel Nieves, who started a 3-6-3 double play. Tillman then struck out Alex Polston to end the game and record his league-leading 22nd save. He is now all alone in third place in Wingnuts history for single-season saves, one behind Matt Nevarez and his 23 saves in 2014.
The Wingnuts continue their series with the Railroaders on Saturday night. Righty Charlie Gillies (6-4, 3.71) starts for Wichita, while Cleburne will counter with fellow righty Josh Hodges (3-4, 6.78). First pitch from The Depot at Cleburne Station is scheduled for 7:06 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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