A four-run first inning staked the Winnipeg Goldeyes to the early lead, and gave the Goldeyes a good feeling that they would walk away with a victory and force a Game 5 in the American Association Championship series. It looked even more likely that this would be the case when Winnipeg reestablished their four-run lead in the fifth. However, a three run sixth made it a one-run game, and the Goldeyes bullpen hung onto that lead as the Canadian team downed the Wichita Wingnuts 5-4.
The game got off to a great start against Wichita starter Tyler Kane. With one out, Maikol Gonzalez worked the count full before drilling his first homerun of the championship series over the left field wall. Willie Cabrera drew a walk and then the long ball would come back to haunt Kane again. Reggie Abercrombie fouled off four two-strike pitches before going deep over the left-center field wall to make it 3-0. That was the center fielder’s first homer of the playoffs as well. Josh Romanski followed with a double and Wes Darvill’s two out single scored Romanski to make it 4-0. Nine batters came to the plate to start the game and the tone for this contest was set.
Edwin Carl started for Winnipeg and he was brilliant. The Game 1 winner allowed just one-hit through the first three-innings, striking out three. In the fourth, Wichita would finally plate a run. T.J. Mittelstaedt drew a two-out walk, and Matt Chavez followed with a line drive that Darvill jumped to grab, but it hit in and out of his glove for a base hit to put two on. Nick Van Stratten followed with a single to right field to score Mittelstaedt and it was 4-1.
The Goldeyes responded right away in the top of the fifth. Cabrera led off with a double and scored when Romanski singled down the line in right two batters later. That made the score 5-1 and ended the day for Kane. Charlie Leesman took over and struck out the final two batters of the inning.
Carl rolled through the fifth, striking out the side, but in the sixth his night would be over. Mittelstaedt was the first batter of the inning, and he ripped a solo homer over the right field wall to make it 5-2. That would chase Carl as Victor Capellan came on. Two batters later Van Stratten doubled down the line in left bringing Harrison Kain to the plate. He worked the count full, then clubbed a shot over the left field wall for his second homerun of this series. That made it a one-run game.
From there both teams had their chances to score, but the bullpens came up big. The Goldeyes had two on in the seventh with two outs, but Gage Smith struck out the final batter of the inning to end the threat. Winnipeg would put two on with one out in the ninth, but Frankie Reed induced a double-play to keep it a one-run game. The Wingnuts got two on in the eighth with two outs, but Winston Abreu struck out the final batter of the inning to end the threat. Abreu returned for the ninth and struck out the side to end the game. Carl (3-0) was the winner. Abreu earned his fourth save.
Romanski finished the game 3-4 with a run and an RBI. Abercombie drove in two. Martin Medina had 2-hits for Wichita. Chavez was 3-5 and Mitteldstaedt was 2-4 with 2-runs and an RBI. Van Stratten was 2-3 with a run and a run driven in.
The deciding Game 5 of the American Association Championship series will be Monday night in Wichita. Kevin McGovern, the Game 2 starter for Winnipeg, will get the call. He will be opposed by veteran Tim Brown. Game time is 7:05.
By Robert Pannier