The Winnipeg Goldeyes showed a great deal of heart Sunday night, winning 9-6 in extra-innings to snap a personal five-game losing streak against the St. Paul Saints. After a tough loss Saturday where the Goldeyes had been ahead 10-6 heading into the bottom of the eighth, only to see the Saints tie it up, then take the lead in top of the 10th, then watch the Saints win with two in the bottom half of the inning, Winnipeg gutted out another extra-inning victory that showed that Manager Rick Forney’s team is as resilient as it gets.
The Goldeyes grabbed the early lead with single runs in the first and second innings. In the top of the first Wes Darvill doubled with one out and came around to score on a triple off the right-center field wall to make it 1-0.
In the second inning the team would rally with two outs. Ridge Hoopii-Haslam singled and moved to second on an error. Maikol Gonzalez followed with a single that drove home Hoopii-Haslam and it was a two-run Winnipeg lead.
The Goldeyes had scratched out their two runs, but St. Paul got the two back in one big swing. Mikey O’Brien had retired the first six Saints hitters he faced, but Tony Caldwell snapped the string with a double to start the third. Two batters later Aaron Gretz drilled a two-run homer over the right field wall to tie the score. It was Gretz’s second homer of the season.
Winnipeg retook the lead right away in the fourth. Jacob Rogers walked to start the inning and moved to second on a single by Casio Grider. A base hit by Carlton Tanabe plated Rogers to put the Goldeyes up 3-2.
In the fifth, the visitors decided to flex their muscles a little. Reggie Abercrombie was the first batter of the inning and he drilled a Robert Coe offering over the left field fence for his fourth homerun of the season. That extended the lead back to two.
It would stay 4-2 until the bottom of the seventh when the Saints would cut the deficit in half. Willie Argo was the first hitter of the inning and, after taking a first pitch strike, he drilled his fourth homer of the year over the left-center field fence to make it 4-3.
That is how it would remain heading into the bottom of the ninth. Kyle Lotzkar came on to close it out, but Argo would continue to be a thorn in the side of the Goldeyes. The Saints left fielder worked the count full before drawing a walk. Two batters later Chad Christensen was hit by a pitch to put two on with one out. Gretz then drilled a ball deep to left field that Josh Romanski made a nice play on at the warning track to keep the lead intact, bringing Breland Almadova to the plate. He would work the count full as well, then grounded one into the hole near first. Rogers made the grab, but elected to take the ball and try to beat Almadova to the bag. Lotzkar also ran toward the bag and obstructed Rogers, allowing Almadova to beat the first baseman with a head first slide. Argo made a head’s up play and raced all the way around from second to score and tie the game.
In the 11th, the Winnipeg Goldeyes would retake the lead. Tanabe started the inning by drilling his first homerun of the season over the left field wall to make it 5-4.
Back to the bottom half of the inning the game went. Argo led it off it again for St. Paul and drew another walk. He then moved to second on a passed ball and stole third to leave him 90-feet away from tying the score with only one out. Christensen’s sacrifice fly scored Argo and the game was tied again.
In the top of the 12th, the Winnipeg Goldeyes would put the game away for good. Eric Veglahn made his debut for St. Paul and it was not a pleasant one. An error allowed the first runner of the inning to reach, and Abercrombie followed with a towering drive to center that just cleared the wall for his fifth homer of the year. Rogers followed with a solo shot over the right field fence to make it 8-5. The Goldeyes would add another run on a single by Darvill to extend the lead to four.
The Saints would pull within three when Angelo Songco plated Nate Hanson in the bottom half of the inning, but they would get no closer. That ended the game 9-6.
Abercrombie finished 2-6 with 2-runs and 3-RBI for the Goldeyes. Darvill had 3-hits and scored a run. Tanabe was 3-6 with a run and 3-RBI.
For the St. Paul Saints, Songco was 2-6 with an RBI. Argo was 1-3 with 3-runs scored and an RBI.
The final contest of the four-games series is tomorrow at 7:05. John Straka (5-1, 5.49) goes for the St. Paul Saints. Kevin McGovern (1-1, 4.38) will go for the Winnipeg Goldeyes.
By Robert Pannier