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Travs come up short on comeback

by JEFF KRUPSAW SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE | July 25, 2021 at 2:29 a.m.

The Arkansas Travelers couldn't complete the comeback this time.

One night after posting a walk-off victory with a two-run ninth-inning rally, the Travelers overcome a four-run deficit to force extra innings Saturday night in an eventual 5-4 loss to the Wichita Wind Surge in 10 innings.

It was the Travs' fourth loss to the Wind Surge in five nights at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock, and their eighth loss in 10 games against Wichita, the leader in the Class AA-Central North Division.

The teams are scheduled to complete their six-game series today at 2:10.

Travs Manager Collin Cowgill said he was pleased with the way his team battled back with four runs in the seventh inning to tie the game, and he didn't see Saturday's performance as any kind of setback after the walk-off on Friday.

"We always have confidence we're going to come back," Cowgill said. "As long as we put together good at-bats, we've got a chance. We did that tonight. We just came up one run short."

Wichita scored the winning run in the top of the 10th inning when Arkansas pitcher Moises Gomez fielded a bunt by DJ Burt to the left of the mound and tried to throw out designated runner Andrew Bechtold at third base.

Bechtold slid under the tag of third baseman Joe Rizzo, who had to race to get back to third. It was ruled as a fielder's choice, but Wichita cashed in on the extra out.

Aaron Whitefield followed with a sacrifice fly to give Wichita a 5-4 lead.

"He thought he had a play," Cowgill said of Gomez. "It was a bang-bang. Didn't get the out, and it cost us."

Catcher Josh Morgan was the runner at second to start the bottom of the 10th inning for the Travs, but he never advanced.

Zach DeLoach was called out on strikes, and after Jack Scheiner walked, Carter Bins struck out swinging against Wichita reliever Ryan Mason. Keegan McGovern grounded out to end the game.

"We couldn't finish the deal," Cowgill said.

Arkansas did make it interesting after managing just two hits over the first six innings against Wichita starter Adam Lau and reliever Jhonleider Salinas.

Bins was hit by a pitch to start the seventh inning and scored on a triple off the center-field wall by McGovern.

Rizzo followed with a single to center field to score McGovern and make it a 4-2 game.

Zachary Neff, the fourth Wichita pitcher, relieved struggling Joe Kuzia. Neff struck out Bobby Honeyman for the second out, then walked Stephen Wrenn. Morgan drove in Rizzo on a single to right field with Wrenn advancing to third.

DeLoach followed with a bouncing-ball single to right field to bring in Wrenn with the tying run and send Morgan to third.

Arkansas' offense stalled after the seventh, managing one base runner against Neff (6-2) and Mason, who picked up his fifth save.

"We had a good game last night," Cowgill said. "We had a good game tonight. We fought hard against these guys. They're a good team. I expect more of the same [Sunday]."

Travs starter Devin Sweet was not involved in the decision, yielding 4 runs, all earned, and 9 hits while walking 2 and striking out 5 over 5 innings.

The big blow against Sweet came from Wichita shortstop Jermaine Palacios, who made it a 4-0 game in the top of fifth when he hit a towering home run to the berm in left field with Caleb Hamilton and Roy Morales aboard. It was Palacios' second home run in two nights and his 12th of the season for the Wind Surge.

Wichita took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third off Sweet, and the Wind Surge did it without the benefit of a hard-hit ball.

Whitefield led off with a walk and stole second. He remained at second when Caleb Hamilton reached on an infield hit to shortstop Connor Kopech.

Whitefield stole third, then scored on Roy Morales' single to right field.

Print Headline: Travs come up short on comeback

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