The Wingnuts, quite frankly, looked horrible yesterday, losing 5-2 to El Paso.Â I asked manager Kash Beauchamp and first baseman Stephen Pearson if the team was still feeling the effects of the previous night’s lost, which essentially knocked it out of the race for the American Association North first-half championship. But both said no, that they came to the ballpark fresh and that Sunday was a new day.
Wichita didn’t play with much enthusiasm, though. For the first time this season that I know of, a player (Brenan Herrera) was benched for not hustling. You can’t be managed by Beauchamp and get away with not running out a fly ball.
Sunday was the first time I walked into the clubhouse after a game and felt uncomfortable. The players were all sitting at their lockers looking like they had all just been released. They all stared at me as I walked through the room and I basically made a bee-line for Beauchamp’s office in the back.
I stayed in there while Beauchamp addressed the players. I couldn’t hear much of what he was saying, but he seemed to stay relatively calm. Which is good. Beauchamp was talking to me about a play from the night before, also involving Herrera, and he said, “Nothing I could have said to him would have made him more embarrassed than what he had just done.” That pretty much describes the postgame meeting, too.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I talked to Beauchamp after the game. A couple of his aggressive calls caused the Wingnuts to run into a couple outs Sunday, and I didn’t know if he’d take responsibility for that. But he did, which is all you can really ask of him. Perhaps seeing the lack of enthusiasm the team seemed to be playing with on Sunday, he tried to get things going by taking chances. They didn’t work out, though, and he owned it.
Even though Wichita won’t win the first half, the last five games don’t lose importance. If Sioux Falls wins the second half, too, the second playoff team from the North is the one with the second-best overall record. So the Wingnuts need to win at least four of the last five to be in a position, possibly, to be second-best. They’re definitely aiming to win the second half, though.