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Wichita Wingnuts Game Notes - July 3rd, 2013

July 3, 2013 - American Association (AA) - Wichita Wingnuts News Release

AIRHOGS TAKE OPENER FROM WINGNUTS: The Wichita Wingnuts lost 2-1 to the Grand Prairie AirHogs in the opener of a four-game series at QuikTrip Park on Tuesday night. Wingnuts' starter Justin Klipp took a tough loss, allowing two earned runs on six hits over 7.0 IP. Klipp walked one and struck out four. Wichita's lone run came on a Jared McDonald solo homer in the top of the third. Grand Prairie pitching held the Wingnuts hitless over the final four innings. Andrew Aizenstadt threw a scoreless bottom of the eighth for Wichita. Wichita has lost nine consecutive games at QuikTrip Park dating back to 2011.

ALL-TIME AGAINST THE AIRHOGS: The Wingnuts are 10-11 all-time against the Grand Prairie AirHogs during the regular season, including a 2-9 mark at QuikTrip Park. The AirHogs beat the Wingnuts 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.

SERIES MATCHUP: The Wingnuts are 28-16 and lead the Gary SouthShore RailCats by 1.0 game in the Central Division. The Wingnuts won two of three vs. the Sioux City Explorers over the weekend. Grand Prairie is 24-18 and in second place in the South Division, 2.5 games behind first place Amarillo. The AirHogs won two of three vs. the Can-Am League's Newark Bears last weekend, and have won 16 of their last 21 games. The Wingnuts are second in the American Association in hitting (.299), first in pitching (3.35), and tied for third in defense (.979). The AirHogs are seventh in the league in batting (.272), sixth in pitching (4.48), and fifth in defense (.978). This is the first series of the year between the two clubs. Wichita makes another trip to Grand Prairie at the end of July, while the AirHogs visit Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in late-August.

TONIGHT'S STARTERS: The Wingnuts go with right-hander Junior Guerra who is 4-0 with a 3.68 ERA in eight starts this season. Guerra allowed one earned run on four hits in 7.0 IP last Wednesday vs. Laredo and took a no-decision. The Wingnuts won the game 5-3. Guerra is 2-0 with a 3.33 ERA on the road this year in four starts. Guerra has allowed two or fewer earned runs in five of eight starts, and has allowed more than four earned runs in just two of them. Guerra has pitched at least 6.0 innings in seven of eight starts, and has pitched at least 5.0 innings in all of them. Guerra's lone career appearance against Grand Prairie came in Game One of the 2011 Division Series at QuikTrip Park. Guerra allowed one earned run in 6.2 IP while taking a no-decision.

Guerra was 1-3 in five starts with a 5.46 ERA for the Leones de Yucatan in the Mexican League last year. Guerra allowed three or fewer earned runs in four of his five starts for the Leones. Guerra starred for the Wingnuts in 2011, posting a 9-3 record while finishing tied for ninth in the American Association in ERA (3.57) and seventh in strikeouts (103). Guerra was 8-1 with a 2.30 ERA over his final 12 regular season starts in 2011, and then allowed one earned run in 6.2 innings in Game One of the Division Series at Grand Prairie. On July 13th, 2011, Guerra worked the first 7.1 innings of a combined no-hitter over the Shreveport-Bossier Captains at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.

As a pitcher, Guerra is 15-9 with a 3.92 ERA in 69 career games, 33 of them starts. Guerra is in his eighth year of professional baseball, and spent four years in the Atlanta Braves' farm system as a catcher. Guerra was signed by Atlanta as an international free agent in 2001.

The AirHogs go with right-hander Jared Mortensen 2-3 with a 5.26 ERA in six starts and two relief outings. Mortensen threw a complete game, three-hit shutout at Sioux Falls last Thursday, striking out four and walking two in 7.0 IP. Mortensen is 0-1 with a 7.41 ERA at home this year in three starts and one relief appearance. Mortensen has allowed one or zero earned runs in three of his six starts, and has allowed more than four earned runs in just two of them. Mortensen has walked two or fewer batters in five of six starts, and has walked three or fewer in all of them.

Mortensen is a true rookie who finished his college career last season at Louisiana State University-Shreveport. Mortensen was 12-2 with a 1.67 ERA as a senior in 2012, striking out 139 in 113.1 IP.

HINSON NAMED PITCHER OF THE MONTH: Wingnuts' left-hander Ryan Hinson has been named the American Association's Pitcher of the Month for June. Hinson was 5-1 with a 1.41 ERA in six starts last month. Hinson allowed two or fewer earned runs in all six of his outings, and logged at least 7.0 IP in five of them. One June 19th vs. Gary SouthShore, Hinson struck out five batters to become the Wingnuts' all-time leader in that category. In his following start on June 24th vs. Laredo, Hinson pitched 6.0 shutout innings to tie Derek Blacksher (2009, 2011-12) for the most wins in franchise history (26). Hinson becomes the first pitcher in team history to earn Pitcher of the Month honors. CJ Ziegler (June 2012) and Greg Porter (June 2009) have won Batter of the Month since the Wingnuts started play in 2008.

ZIEGLER NAMED BATTER OF THE WEEK: Wingnuts' first baseman CJ Ziegler has been named the American Association's Batter of the Week for June 24th - 30th . Ziegler hit safely in all six games last week, helping the Wingnuts go 5-1. Ziegler was 10 for 22 (.456) with 10 runs scored, three home runs, and 14 RBI. On June 24th vs. Laredo, Ziegler tied a franchise single-game record with seven RBI in a 20-6 win over the Lemurs. The 20 runs set a team single-game record.

NIEVES STAYING HOT: Wingnuts' third baseman Abel Nieves leads the American Association in batting average (.387) and is 54 for 117 (.462) in his last 31 games with 28 runs scored, 12 doubles, and 16 walks. 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 38 of 43 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 had 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 either shortstop or in the leadoff spot was September 4th, 2011 when Jimmy Mojica did both in Game Four of the Division Series vs. Grand Prairie.

ZIEGLER CLEANING THE TABLE: Wichita Wingnuts' first baseman CJ Ziegler ranks first in the American Association in both home runs (16) and RBI (51). 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.

KHOURY NEARING ANOTHER RECORD: Wingnuts' shortstop Ryan Khoury has 44 stolen bases in a Wingnuts' uniform over the last two seasons. Khoury is two steals away from Josh Horn (2009-11) who holds the franchise mark with 46. Khoury set a Wingnuts' single-season record with 37 stolen bases in 2012, surpassing current manager Kevin Hooper's mark of 34 set in 2008.

'J-ROD' APPROACHING MILESTONES: Wingnuts' DH John Rodriguez is nearing several significant milestones. The former World Series champion (St. Louis, 2006) has 1,493 base hits during his 17-year professional career and is just seven shy of 1,500. Rodriguez is also just five RBI shy of 900 for his career. Rodriguez trails Josh Horn (2009-11) for the Wingnuts' franchise RBI record of 125.

HINSON ONE WIN FROM FRANCHISE RECORD: Ryan Hinson earned his 26th win in a Wingnuts' uniform on June 24th vs. Laredo, tying him with Derek Blacksher for the most in franchise history. Hinson surpassed Blacksher for the Wingnuts' career strikeouts record when he fanned five in a win vs. Gary SouthShore on June 19th .

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.

COMPLETE ME: The Wingnuts lead the American Association with four complete games. Wichita's team record for complete games in one season is seven, accomplished in both 2009 and 2010. Wingnuts' starting pitchers have averaged 6.4 innings per start (44 games started, 280.2 IP).

TOUGH LOSSES: Of the Wingnuts' 16 losses this season, 11 have been by one run, two by two runs, and one by three runs in extra innings. Wichita has had a lead at some point in 11 of 15 losses.

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. It was the first time the Wingnuts hit back-to-back home runs since July 26th, 2011 when Josh Horn and Brent Clevlen did it 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 last year, and was hitting .400 with the sacks full going into June 11th of this season, but had gone 126 consecutive games without a grand slam. CJ Ziegler hit the Wingnuts' second grand slam of the season on June 28th vs. Sioux City.

PITCHING STRONG: The Wingnuts rank first in the American Association with a 3.35 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 .299 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 tied for third in the American Association with a .979 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 170-100 (.630) 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.

FRONT LINERS PROTECTING THE HOME FRONT: Third-year Wingnuts' starter Ryan Hinson has excelled when pitching at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. Including the postseason, Hinson is 17-7 with a 2.98 ERA (62 ER, 187.1 IP) over 28 starts and two relief appearances. Junior Guerra-who is in his second overall season with the Wingnuts-is 9-2 with a 3.03 ERA (37 ER, 110.0 IP) all-time at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in 16 starts.

ALL HE DOES IS WIN: Wingnuts' fifth-year manager Kevin Hooper is 250-186 (.573) since taking over in 2009. Hooper has guided the Wingnuts to four consecutive winning seasons, as well as three playoff berths. Hooper's .573 winning percentage is the highest among American Association managers over the last five years. His 250 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 2.84 ERA with six strikeouts in 6.1 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 3.15 ERA in 34.1 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 is 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA in three starts for the Double-A Eastern League's Erie SeaWolves.

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