The Winnipeg Goldeyes surrendered hits to the Wichita Wingnuts in only the fifth and eighth innings, but Wichita made them count.
Wichita scored six runs in the fifth and three more times in the eighth, as they defeated the Winnipeg Goldeyes 9-6 in the final exhibition game for both teams. It was Winnipeg's first time back in Wichita since they clinched last season's American Association championship.
The Goldeyes struck first against Wingnuts reliever Kristhiam Linares, who replaced starter Ryan Hinson after two innings. In the third, Leonard Davis doubled off the right field wall to bring home Jordan Guida to start the scoring. Winnipeg added two more off Linares in the fourth inning off a sacrifice fly from Amos Ramon and a RBI groundout by Guida, as the Goldeyes took a 3-0 lead.
Winnipeg starter Pete Gehle retired 12 of the first 13 batters he faced, but ran into trouble in the fifth. With two outs and one run already across the plate, Jared McDonald laid down a drag bunt and beat second baseman Amos Ramon's throw to first to make it 3-2. That prompted Goldeyes manager Rick Forney to come out and replace him with newly-signed Dan Martony.
"Gehle came out and gave us four strong innings. We sent him out there for the fifth just to get him up and down a little more," said Goldeyes pitching coach Jamie Vermilyea. "It's the longest he's gone so far so his legs were getting a little tired and he left a couple balls up. I thought he was out of the inning with that play at first base but the umpire called him safe."
Martony was promptly greeted with four consecutive hits. Rodriguez highlighted the barrage with a two-run double to left-center and clean-up hitter CJ Ziegler capped the inning by driving home Rodriguez on a seeing-eye single. In all, the Wingnuts sent 10 men to the plate in a six-run inning and grabbed a 6-3 lead.
"It's a tough situation to come into. Guys are on base and it's his first time pitching in a year," said Vermilyea. "We'll get him back out there. It's been that big inning that been our problem this spring training, pitching-wise."
It didn't take long for the Goldeyes to respond, as Josh Mazzola led off the sixth with a home run to dead center. Winnipeg would finish the inning with three runs on five hits to tie the game. Nick Liles drove in Guida to tie it at six right after a Fehlandt Lentini RBI single made it a one-run game.
In his first at-bat of the game, Stephen Yoo doubled off Goldeyes reliever Chris Allen to lead off the eighth. He would score the go-ahead run on an Abel Nieves base hit. Nieves stretched the lead to two after scoring on an error charged to the third baseman Davis. Kahaulelio drove home the game's final run on a single to center, which was booted by Lentini for the Goldeyes third error of the inning.
Nick Walters earned the win for Wichita after working a scoreless eighth. Josh Dew worked a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up the save. Jake Kahaulelio and John Rodriguez each drove in two runs at the top of the Wingnuts order.
Chris Allen got tagged with the loss for Winnipeg after being roughed up in the eighth. He allowed three runs – only one was earned – on five hits and struck out one.
Jordan Guida went 2-for-3 with a double, RBI, and two runs scored.