It was during a series last month in Washington that Brian Smith, Windy City’s first-year manager, said the Wild Things were much like his team – one that struggles to score – except when they play his ThunderBolts.
“Then, they turn into the 1927 New York Yankees,” he said.
Washington’s hitters hardly resembled Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig but they did enough offensively Saturday night to look much like the 2018 Wild Things or even the 2007 version.
Washington had 13 hits, scored six early runs and continued its season-long domination of Windy City by defeating the Thunderbolts, 7-2.
The win was the first in more than a week for the Wild Things but it improved their record to 8-3 against the ThunderBolts. Washington is averaging 6.4 runs per game against Windy City. Against the rest of the league, the average is only 4.1.
Windy City had its three-game winning streak end.
The offensive outburst was more than enough support for Washington starter Nick Gallagher (2-2), who allowed five hits and two runs in a career-high 6 1/3 innings. The rookie righthander from Binghamton University struck out five and left with a 7-2 lead.
After falling behind 1-0, Washington took control with a four-run second inning that started with four consecutive hits off Windy City starter Hayden Shenefield (1-2). Hector Roa, J.J. Fernandez and Cody Erickson hit consecutive singles, the latter tying the score at 1-1. Ryan Cox then hit a grounder just inside the first-base bag that rolled down the right-field line for a two-run triple. Cox made it 4-1 when he scored on a sacrifice fly by Brett Marr.
Another triple helped Washington push its lead to 6-1 in the third. After a leadoff single by J.R. Davis, Shaine Hughes hit a ball off the glove of diving Windy City first baseman Tyler Straub that rolled into the Wild Things’ bullpen for an RBI triple. Hughes scored when a pickoff throw by the Windy City catcher sailed into left field.
J.J. Fernandez made it 7-1 in the fifth when he singled home Hughes.
Windy City designated hitter Zach Rheams hit his first home run with Windy City, a solo shot in the seventh, off Gallagher. Washington relievers Zach Reid, Carter Johnson and Jesus Balaguer closed the game with 2 2/3 scoreless innings. Balaguer pitched the ninth and extended his scoreless innings streak to 15 1/3 in a row.
Eight Washington starters had at least one hit. Davis, Hughes, Roa, Fernandez and Stephen Lohr each had two hits.
The series concludes at 5:35 p.m. today with Michael Austin (5-8, 4.32) pitching for Washington against Kenny Mathews (3-9, 4.18). ... The Wild Things will be off Monday and Tuesday before playing a two-game series at Florence.