The Wichita Wingnuts (48-25) beat the Can-Am League's Newark Bears (23-47) 9-2 at Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium on Saturday night.
Wichita engineered a late comeback for a second straight night, scoring three times in the top of the eighth to erase a 2-1 deficit. Jake Kahaulelio hit a one-out, solo home run to deep left field to tie the game at 2-2. John Rodriguez followed with a line drive single to left and took second two batters later when Brent Clevlen walked. Abel Nieves gave Wichita its first lead with a line drive single to right that plated Rodriguez with the go-ahead run. Nieves' ball skipped by Bears' right fielder Jonny Kaplan and allowed Clevlen to score from first base to make it 4-2.
Lincoln Holdzkom relieved Wingnuts' starter Justin Klipp in the bottom of the eighth and struck out two during a scoreless inning to keep the lead intact.
Wichita scored five runs in the top of the ninth for a second straight night to break the game open. Walks to Madison Beaird, Ryan Khoury, and Jake Kahaulelio loaded the bases with one out. Beaird scored on a wild pitch thrown by reliever Steve Merslich. After Brian Parker relieved Merslich, Rodriguez singled up the middle through a drawn-in infield to score Khoury and Kahaulelio. C.J. Ziegler hit a towering, two-run home run on the next pitch to make it 9-2. It was Ziegler's 20th home run of the year, making him the third player in franchise history to reach 20 homers in a single season. The team record is 21, held by both Kelly Hunt and Gret Porter in 2009.
Daniel Bennett threw a perfect bottom of the ninth on just six pitches to close out the game.
Newark took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Richard Arias hit a ground rule double down the right field line and took third on Jonny Kaplan's groundball to second. Ernie Banks Jr. drove in Arias with a line drive single to left.
Trent Wilkins drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the fifth, took second on Sandy DeLeon's grondball to the mound, and scored two batters later on a line drive single to center from Bridger Hunt.
Wichita cut the lead in half in the top of the sixth when Rodriguez sliced a solo home run to left-center.
Klipp earned the win, allowing two earned runs on six hits over seven innings. Klipp walked one and struck out three.
Fray Martinez took the loss in relief for Newark, allowing three runs, two earned, on three hits in the top of the eighth.
Bears' starter Leondy Perez took a no-decision, allowing one earned run on three hits in seven innings. Perez walked four and struck out 11.
Rodriguez had three hits, three runs scored, and three RBI for Wichita.
The series concludes Sunday evening at 5:00 p.m. Central Time. Junior Guerra faces left-hander Joe Testa. The Bears have not announced their starting pitcher. All the action can be heard locally on Oldies 92.7 KWME and worldwide at www.pressboxproductionsradio.com
The Wingnuts return home on Tuesday, August 13th when they host the Gary SouthShore RailCats. Individual tickets can be purchased by calling (316) 755-SEAT, or by visiting www.selectaseat.com
Beginning this season, fans can use cash at all points of sale in Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. Debit and credit cards will still be accepted.
For season tickets, group outings, or party packages, call the Wingnuts' main office at (316) 264-NUTS, or visit the Wingnuts' official website at www.wichitawingnuts.com