Wild Things Take Middle Game Running Away

Wednesday, June 5, 2024
By Cam McGuire
Wild Things Take Middle Game Running Away

WASHINGTON, Pa. (June 5) – The Washington Wild Things continued their hot hitting on Wednesday evening as they defeated the Windy City Thunderbolts 11-2. The Wild Things were helped by strong offensive performances from Caleb McNeely and Robert Chayka, while starting pitching Zach Kirby went eight innings for the longest start of his professional career.

The Thunderbolts began the scoring early thanks to an RBI groundout from Joe Johnson that scored leadoff hitter Cam Phelts from third base. The early 1-0 lead was quickly relinquished thanks to a leadoff home run from center fielder Caleb McNeely that tied the game at one apiece. The homer for McNeely was his sixth of the season which tied him with Tommy Caufield for the team lead.

Following the leadoff runs, neither team scored again until the top of the fourth inning when Windy City designated hitter Kingston Liniak launched an opposite field solo home run over the right field fence with two outs to give the Thunderbolts a 2-1 lead. The homer for Liniak was his second of the season and only the second homer allowed by Zach Kirby.

The Wild Things got the offense revving in the bottom of the fourth thanks to five consecutive one-out baserunners capped off by a grand slam from Robert Chayka for his first home run of the 2024 campaign. The grand slam from Chayka gave Washington a 5-2 lead and the second-consecutive game with a grand slam. Additionally, first baseman Andrew Czech reached base via a walk earlier in the inning to extend his on-base streak to 54 games, 15 shy of the all-time Frontier League record of 69 games.

The hot offense continued in the bottom of the fifth inning when shortstop Ethan Wilder led off the inning with a scorching double into the left center field gap and was later scored in from third base thanks to an RBI single from Wagner Lagrange that gave Washington a 6-2 lead. Following the single, LaGrange reached third on a double from Czech. Both runners scored as Chayka continued his scorching evening as he legged out a triple in the right center gap. With the triple, Chayka was a double shy of the cycle in the fifth.

Once again, the Things had a prime-scoring opportunity in the sixth inning when McNeely led off the inning with a single past the shortstop and reached second base thanks to a passed ball from Windy City catcher Gabriel Bersing. Wilder took advantage as he lined a double down the right field line to score McNeely from second for his third hit of the game and extended the lead to 10-2.

The Wild Things continued their scoring following the seventh inning stretch as a walk from Ricardo Sanchez and a fielders’ choice gave them runners on first and second with two outs. McNeely lined a double into right field which scored Evan Berkey from second and moved Sanchez to third. The double was McNeely’s third hit and second run knocked in of the evening.

On the mound, Zach Kirby had his longest start of his career as he went eight innings and improved his record to 3-1 on the season. In the outing, Kirby struck out seven batters while allowing two runs (one earned), four hits and no walks. Following the fourth-inning homer, he allowed only one baserunner in his final 4.1 innings pitched.

To finish the game, Hunter Stevens entered in the ninth inning for his fourth appearance of the season. Stevens pitched a clean ninth inning as he retired all three batters he faced which included a strikeout of Joe Johnson for the second out.

The Wild Things return to action on Thursday evening for a 7:05 p.m. first pitch as they seek to sweep the ThunderBolts in the final game of the series. The matchup will be the second Thirsty Thursday of the 2024 season as well as Summer St. Paddy’s Day presented by Friday Beers Pittsburgh.