Wingnuts Stay Alive, Double up Explorers
WICHITA, Kan. - The Wichita Wingnuts scored in three of the first four innings and got a great start from Jordan Cooper, keeping their postseason hopes alive with a 4-2 win over the Sioux City Explorers on Saturday night at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
The win, combined with Kansas City's 9-1 loss to the Gary SouthShore RailCats, means that Wichita (60-38) is now 1.5 games behind the T-Bones with two games left to play. The Wingnuts will still need to win the final two games of their series with the Explorers and have Kansas City lose twice to reach the postseason.
Zach Nehrir got the Wingnuts off on the right foot with a solo home run in the first inning against Justin Vernia (12-2). Wichita then added two more in the second on a clutch two-out, two-run double from Leo Vargas that pushed the lead to 3-0.
That was enough support for Cooper, who gutted his way through 6.2 innings, allowing just one run on seven hits. Dean Green broke up his shutout with a solo homer in the fourth that trimmed the lead to 4-1, but Nick Rotola's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning provided a quick answer.
Sioux City (70-28) scored an unearned run in the sixth. With runners at first and second and one out, Cooper bounced a wild pitch that advanced Jose Sermo to third and Green to second. John Nester's throw to second skipped into centerfield for a throwing error, allowing Sermo to bring home an Explorers run that trimmed the lead to 4-2.
Austin Boyle turned aside a Sioux City rally in the seventh with a strikeout, then worked a 1-2-3 eighth. Daniel Tillman set down the side in order in the ninth, securing his 27th save of the year. That mark ties the Wingnuts single-season record, set by Josh Dew in 2013. It was also Wichita's 36th save of the season as a team, tying the Lincoln Saltdogs, who set the American Association record back in 2014.
The Wingnuts continue their series against the Explorers on Sunday afternoon. Charlie Gillies (7-6, 4.90) gets the start for Wichita, while Sioux City will counter with fellow righty Luis Mateo (10-5, 4.46). First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 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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