Mikey O’Brien Blanks Saints; Goldeyes Advance to American Association Title Series
Monday night saw a rematch of Game 1 as Mark Hamburger squared off against Mikey O’Brien. The stakes were much higher in this contest however. Instead of setting the tone for the remainder of the series, Monday night’s winner would be advancing to the American Association championship series. Thanks to seven shutout innings by O’Brien, the Winnipeg Goldeyes are the team that is advancing, as the St. Paul Saints found their season ending following a 3-0 defeat.
The Goldeyes jumped out in front in the first, scoring a quick run against Hamburger. Adam Heisler led off the game with a double just over the head of Alonzo Harris. A ground out moved him to third, and he scored when Willie Cabrera blooped a single into right field to make it 1-0.
It would stay that way until the third when Winnipeg would extend their lead. Heisler got the rally started again, doubling off the right-center field wall. Next up was Maikol Gonzalez who laid down a perfect bunt. Hamburger threw to first to get the out, but Tanner Vavra could not hang onto the ball. It squirted away, allowing Gonzalez to reach second and Heisler to score. Two batters later Reggie Abercrombie singled into right field. Gonzalez scored and it was 3-0.
That was plenty enough run support for O’Brien on this night. The right-hander retired the first 11 hitters of the game, only seeing his run end when Tony Thomas doubled with two-outs in the fourth.
In the fifth, the St. Paul Saints looked like they may get a chance to get back into this game. Nate Hanson and Angelo Songco led off with singles. Next up was Tony Caldwell, who has hit the Goldeyes pitching staff well all season. He worked the count full before ripping a ball that looked like it had a shot to get into left field. Instead, Wes Darvill made a great play to stab the ball and threw to second for a double-play. Vavra followed with a single, but Breland Almadova grounded out to end the threat.
The Saints would get one more rally going in the seventh. Hanson and Songco each drew a walk with one-out, but O’Brien then struck out Caldwell before getting Vavra to fly out.
O’Brien (1-1) was done after 7-innings and he had pitched a beauty. The Winnipeg starter allowed just 4-hits and 2-walks while striking out 7.
Victor Capellan came on in the eighth. It was his fifth straight appearance in the series, but he showed no ill-effects, striking out the side. That gave him 11-strikeouts in 5.2-innings this series.
In the ninth, Winston Abreu came on for the Winnipeg Goldeyes. He struck out David Bergin to begin the inning, but the shutout ended when Nate Hanson drilled a shot over the left field wall. That made it 3-1. Angelo Songco followed by drawing a walk and the crowd came to life. Abreu was unfazed, striking out Caldwell and then Vinny DiFazio to end the game.
Adam Heisler finished the contest 2-5 with 2-runs scored. Casio Grider and Darvill each had 2-hits as well. Hanson was 2-3 with a run and an RBI for St. Paul.
The Winnipeg Goldeyes now head home to begin the championship series against the Wichita Wingnuts. Game 1 will be Wednesday night at 7:00. The Minor League Sports Report will have a preview of this series on Wednesday morning.
By Robert Pannier