WICHITA, KS – Lincoln Saltdogs (47-26) closer Michael Wagner induced a game-ending double play with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth inning to preserve a 6-5 win over the Wichita Wingnuts (45-29) on Tuesday night.
The Saltdogs broke a 5-5 stalemate in the top of the seventh inning when Matty Johnson hit a home run over the right field fence. Then, the Saltdogs relievers walked a tight rope by stranding five runners over the final three innings to get the dramatic win and even the series.
The game opened with the Saltdogs jumping ahead. Joe Robbins and Johnson started the game with back-to-back singles. Robbins stole third base and scored on a sacrifice fly by Curt Smith to go ahead by a run.
Lincoln added to the advantage in the top of the second inning. Randolph Oduber walked to start the frame, then Brandon Jacobs doubled down the left field line to knock him home.
Wichita got their first run in the bottom of the second. T.J. Mittelstaedt singled and scored on a Richard Prigatano base hit to make it 2-1.
They exploded for runs in the third. Leo Vargas doubled off of Saltdogs starter Dimitri Kourtis to begin the inning. The Wingnuts tallied three more hits, including a Mittelstaedt triple, to score four total runs and jump ahead 5-2.
The Saltdogs evened the score with three runs in the top of the 5th inning. Ivan Marin and Johnson got aboard with walks before Cesar Valera knocked a run in with a hit. Then, Nathaniel Maggio ripped a two-out RBI single and Oduber did the same to tie the game at 5-5.
Johnson’s game-winning blast came in the top of the seventh and the bullpen and defense did the rest. J.R. Bunda threw two perfect innings of relief in the fifth and sixth. Casey Crosby worked around a couple of hits in the seventh then Cameron McVey shut down Wichita in the eighth. Wagner earned his league-leading 16th save with the scoreless ninth inning.
The Saltdogs defense made jaw-dropping plays all night long. It was their fourth straight error-free game.
The Saltdogs try to win their eighth straight series on Wednesday night. First pitch is at 7:05 PM with coverage beginning at 6:35 PM on ESPN 1480 and saltdogs.com.
The team returns to Lincoln to face the Sioux City Explorers on Thursday. Tickets are on sale and can be purchased by calling (402) 474-2255 or visiting Saltdogs.com. For the latest information on the Saltdogs follow the team on Facebook and Twitter/Instagram @saltdogsball.