Wild Things can’t hold lead, lose 5th straight

The Wild Things’ dormant offense erupted for a four-run inning Saturday night. They also had ace pitcher Trevor Foss on the mound with a three-run lead in the seventh inning.

That combination has usually been more than enough to assure a Washington win, but when you’re on the kind of roll the Windy City ThunderBolts are currently on, no deficit is insurmountable.

Windy City knocked out Foss in the seventh inning, tied the score in the ninth against Washington closer Zach Strecker and pushed across the eventual game-winner in the 10th on a two-out bases-loaded single by Ransom LaLonde as the ThunderBolts rallied for a stunning 5-4 victory.

LaLonde stepped to the plate against Strecker (5-3) with the bases loaded and two outs in the 10th. He smacked a shot to the left of Washington second baseman Justin Bohn, who made a diving attempt to stop the ball but it was just out of his reach. The hit allowed pinch-runner Andrew Dundon to trot home from third base and give Windy City a 5-4 lead. The ThunderBolts’ Riley Kranes tried to score from second base on the play but he was thrown out at home plate on a strong throw by right fielder Hector Roa.

Windy City closer Brian Loconsole entered the game in the bottom of the 10th and retired three of the four batters he faced for his league-leading 19th save.

The win was the fourth in a row, and 10th in 12 games, for Windy City, which moved two games ahead of third-place Washington in the East Division. The Wild Things have lost a season-high five in a row.

Washington scored four runs in the fifth inning and led 4-1 entering the seventh. That’s when Foss, who had won five consecutive decisions, suddenly ran out of gas. He gave up two singles and two walks that pulled Windy City to within 4-2 and left with the bases loaded and one out.

Reliever Aaron Burns entered and issued a walk that forced in the ThunderBolts’ third run of the game but the rookie right-hander also worked out of the full-blown jam with a strikeout and groundball that left the score at 4-3.

Strecker pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning but Windy City tied the score in the ninth when Blair Beck, the No. 9 hitter in the ThunderBolts’ lineup, singled with one out and scored when Coco Johnson doubled to the wall in left centerfield.

Scott Kuzminsky (3-1), the fifth of six Windy City pitchers was the winner.

Foss gave up six hits and three runs in 6 1/3 innings.

The Wild Things’ offense was in the midst of a weeklong slump. Washington had not scored an earned run in seven days –albeit a streak aided by the four-day Frontier League all-star break – and Wild Things hitters were 0-for-3 and without an RBI when batting with the bases loaded.

That was why Washington was trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning when a daring defensive play by Windy City pulled the choke on the Wild Things’ sputtering offense and started the engine.

Windy City catcher Corey Beck made a low pickoff throw to first base in an attempt to get Kane Sweeney, who had ventured far off the bag. The throw handcuffed first baseman Kyle Wood and bounced far enough away to allow Trevin Sonnier, who had opened the inning with a single, to race home with the Wild Things’ first run and tied the score.

By the time the inning would end, Washington had scored four runs – an explosion by recent standards. Brlain Jackson had a run-scoring single that was followed by Beck, Windy City’s right fielder, making a throw to third base that sailed into the boxseats, allowing Sweeney to score. Mike Hill followed with a double that scored Jackson and made it 4-1.

Johnson, who was 4-for-4 in the series opener Friday night, led off the game with a triple off the wall in left centerfield and scored on a single to center field by Windy City center fielder Kenyatta Walker, a former first round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox. Just like that Windy City had a 1-0 lead against Foss only four pitches into the game. It was the first earned run the ThunderBolts scored off Foss in the Washington pitcher’s three career starters against Windy City.