A grand slam home run and a three-run shot can do a lot of damage, especially when the two homers come in back-to-back innings.
Tuesday night in front of 6,067 at Shaw Park, Wichita's Abel Nieves hit a grand slam home run in the fifth and then Jared McDonald hit a three-run bomb in the sixth, as the visiting Wingnuts blasted the Winnipeg Goldeyes 11-0.
With the loss, the Goldeyes fell to 13-12 on the season and that means Wednesday afternoon's game will be the rubber-match and will determine who wins this three-game series.
"They (the Wingnuts) played a great baseball game," said Goldeyes manager Rick Forney. "They lifted the ball and used the elements to their advantage. They used the whole field and (starter) Jon Link was tremendous, eight innings of shutout baseball. You have to tip your cap to him.
Wichita took a 1-0 lead in the first as leadoff hitter Ryan Khoury doubled, went to third on a ground out and scored on a sacrifice fly by John Rodriguez.
Then, in the fifth, the Wingnuts blew it open as Jared McDonald beat out an infield hit and eventually scored on a single by Tim Rotola. Then with Khoury on first, Rotola on second and David Amberson on third, Nieves belted a grand slam home run the opposite way, over the rightfield wall.
In the sixth, Cole Armstrong singled, Colt Loehrs singled and MacDonald hit his three-run homer to put the lights out on the festivities.
The Wingnuts added two more runs in the seventh, just for fun, as McDonald singled home Rodriguez to pick up his fourth RBI of the night and then Amberson hit into a fielder's choice and drove in CJ Ziegler.
Goldeyes starting pitcher Matt Rusch (4-2, 3.93 ERA) had his worst outing of the season, allowing nine runs on nine hits, including the two backbreaking home runs, over six innings of work. The Wingnuts finished with 11 runs on 13 hits.
Jon Link (5-1, 1.69 ERA) picked up the win for Wichita. Link pitched eight complete innings, scattered eight hits, struck out six and threw 117 pitches.
"Jon Link was above the league," said Forney. "That's the most dominating performance I've seen from a pitcher in this league in seven or eight years. He had a great plan and he executed it tonight. No wonder he pitched in the majors. Tip your cap to him, he did a great job."
Goldeyes slugger Josh Mazzola was ejected after striking out in the first inning. He took issue with the work of home plate umpire P.J. Krauss. Nick Liles replaced him in the lineup and finished with a pair of singles. Casey Haerther's hot bat continued to smoke as Haerther had a single and a double. In total, the Goldeyes managed eight hits.
The two teams will go at it again on Wednesday morning at Shaw Park at 11 a.m. Lefty Mark Hardy (3-1, 1.99 ERA), the Canadian, will take the ball for Winnipeg while Chris Smith (2-2, 4.65 ERA) will start for Wichita.