By BRIAN BRUCE, Tbonesbaseball.com
WICHITA, Kan- Former Atlanta Braves outfielder Brandon Jones was clutch in the top of the 9th inning for Kansas City on Friday night at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, as he launched a solo home run to center off of Wingnuts right-hander Matt Nevarez to give the T-Bones a 5-4 lead and eventual victory.
The T-Bones scored once in the third inning and once in the fourth to take an early 2-0 lead over the Central Division-leading Wingnuts.
In the third, it was second baseman Reid Fronk doing the damage, as he launched a leadoff 410-foot home run to dead center off of Wichita starter Ben Graham. The longball was Fronk’s second.
In the next inning, Olathe, Kan., native Gus Milner hit a line drive homer to left-center with two outs, his second, giving the T-Bones a two-run cushion.
Kansas City answered right back with one run in the 6th and one in the 7th, scoring on an RBI single by Devin Goodwin and a bases loaded wild pitch, respectively.
Wichita struck back to tie the game in the 8th. Slugger C.J. Ziegler, who is now hitting .308 on the season and has already enjoyed a 17-game hitting streak, launched a game-tying two-run shot to left-center off of T-Bones right-hander Lucas Irvine.
The home run was Ziegler’s seventh of the year and tied the game at 4-4.
Kansas City starter Nick Singleton, who pitched well against his former team, ended up with a no decision, going six and two-thirds innings, allowing two earned runs on nine hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out three. His record remains at 3-1 and his ERA dropped to 4.46.
Singleton was a major factor in Wichita’s Central Division title and playoff appearance last season, as the right-hander from Montgomery, Alabama went 11-2 for the Wingnuts with a 3.57 ERA in 2011.
Ziegler’s two-run game-tying shot chased Irvine from the game, and Kansas City turned to lefty Steve Kent. Kent slammed the door on Wichita’s 8th inning, retiring three straight hitters while striking out two.
That set the table for Jones’ heroics in the top of the 9th, as he lead off and crushed the second pitch he saw from Nevarez over the center field fence for his third homer of the year.
Jake Wiley worked a perfect 1-2-3 bottom of the 9th to earn the save, his fifth. Kent earned the win, improving to 1-2.
The Central Division victory improves Kansas City to 13-14 overall. The T-Bones send left-hander Devin Anderson (1-2; 4.73) to mound for Game 2 of the three-game series on Saturday night, while the Wingnuts counter with righty Josh Lowey (4-0; 4.01).
Listen to the play-by-play call on the T-Bones’ flagship station, KMBZ Business Channel 1660 AM, and online at www.tbonesbaseball.com.