LINCOLN — The Saltdogs (19-22) started with a bang and led wire to wire in a 8-6 series-evening victory over the Wichita Wingnuts (28-15) in front of 4,896 fans at Haymarket Park Saturday night.
After Wichita starter Justin Klipp walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the first, Kevin Howard sliced a three-run double to left center to vault the 'Dogs to a 3-0 lead.
J.T. Wise homered for the second time in as many days to pull the Wingnuts to within a run at 4-3 in the top of the fourth. Then Jeremy Hamilton delivered a clutch two-out, two-run single to right in the bottom of the fourth to extend Lincoln's lead to 6-3.
Brian Joynt's two-run home run to left center put the Saltdogs in front 8-3 in the bottom of the sixth. Wichita responded with a Ryan Khoury two-run shot in the seventh and a Carlo Testa sacrifice fly in the ninth.
Joe Bisenius (3-2) pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing four earned on six hits while fanning six and walking two to earn the victory. Klipp (4-2), who entered the game with the league's best ERA, was roughed up for eight earned on 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings to suffer the loss.
Marshall Schuler pitched the ninth, allowing a run on two hits but picked up his league-leading 13th save of the year. Schuler has saved each of the last eight Saltdogs victories.
Hamilton sparkled in the two-hole for Lincoln, going 3-for-3 with two walks, three runs and two RBI. Joynt finished 2-for-4 and Ian Gac went 3-for-5 with a RBI double. Howard had two more hits with the three RBI, running his home stand total to 11 RBI in five games.
The Saltdogs tallied 14 hits and have outhit Wichita 24-17 so far this weekend.
The clubs are back at it Sunday evening at 5:05 p.m. for the rubber match of the three-game series. RHP Marquis Fleming (3-3, 2.90) is scheduled to face RHP Jason Van Skike (3-1, 3.25). Radio coverage begins at 4:35 p.m. on KFOR 1240.