WINNIPEG, MB – The Winnipeg Goldeyes (15-12) beat the Texas AirHogs 14-5 at Shaw Park on Thursday afternoon.
The Goldeyes scored seven runs in the bottom of the first in support of starting pitcher Kevin McGovern to take the rubber match of the three-game series.
Adam Heisler opened the bottom of the first with a line drive single to centre that extended his hitting streak to 12 consecutive games. After Maikol Gonzalez walked, Josh Romanski pulled a line drive single to right-centre that scored Heisler with the first run of the afternoon. Consecutive walks to David Rohm and Jacob Rogers forced home Gonzalez to make it 2-0. Reggie Abercrombie followed with an RBI infield single, while Casio Grider drew the second bases loaded walk of the inning to extend the lead to 4-0. Carlton Tanabe tacked on two more runs with a line drive single down the right field line. Heisler finished the rally with a sacrifice fly to left. The Goldeyes sent 11 batters to the plate in the inning.
“It’s a good bounce-back effort,” said Goldeyes’ manager Rick Forney . “Today was just a totally different day. We hit the ball soft but found a way in there and got out of the gates really fast with a seven-run first inning. The biggest difference for us is we’re taking our walks. When we take walks, we have the ability to put runs up like that. When we get a little bit anxious or maybe sometimes a little too selfish, then we’ll get ourselves out, but guys are coming through. We got some big hits today. The bottom of the order was really good.
Cody Lenahan hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the second to put Texas on the board. Texas started the inning with the bases loaded and nobody out, but McGovern limited the AirHogs to the lone run when Mike Valadez hit into an inning-ending double play.
The Goldeyes scratched out an unearned run in the bottom of the inning on a two-out, RBI infield single from Grider in which Rohm was able to score from second base.
Tanabe singled to left leading off the bottom of the third. Ridge Hoopii-Haslam followed with a home run to left to open a 10-1 lead.
“Offensively, the last couple weeks, his (Tanabe’s) at bats have started to get better,” said Forney. “He seems to be coming up with some big hits with men in scoring position and big two-out hits. (It makes) a big difference when you can extend the inning like that. He’s starting to settle in.”
Texas rallied for four runs in the top of the sixth to pull within five. Burt Reynolds led off with his league-leading 13th home run of the year. After three consecutive singles loaded the bases for the AirHogs, Lenahan hit his second sacrifice fly of the game. Valadez and Michael Hur added RBI singles during the rally.
The Goldeyes answered right back with four more unearned runs against rookie reliever Paxton Bartley, who was making his professional debut. With runners on first and third and two outs, Tanabe singled up the middle to score Rogers with the Goldeyes’ 11th run. After Hoopii-Haslam walked to load the bases, Heisler singled on a line drive to centre to drive in two more. Gonzalez singled through the left side to score Hoopii-Haslam and provide the game’s final margin.
“It’s just getting comfortable, getting the timing down, believing in myself,” said Tanabe. “It’s all confidence. My main job is to catch and make sure I control the pitching staff and get that ‘W’. It was a good day. We found the holes. (It was a) good win. That’s the main thing: we won.
McGovern (1-1) earned the win, allowing five earned runs on nine hits in five and one-third innings. McGovern walked one and struck out five.
Zach Dando and Brandon Shimo each recorded an out in relief of McGovern in the top of the sixth.
Kyle Lotzkar, who was signed earlier in the morning, worked two scoreless frames with two strikeouts over the seventh and eighth innings.
Conor Spink pitched a perfect ninth to finish off the win. Both Shimo and Spink were pitching for a third consecutive calendar day.
The Goldeyes’ bullpen combined for 12 shutout innings in the three-game series, and allowed just two total base hits.
Griffin Russell (1-3) took the loss for the AirHogs, allowing 10 runs, nine earned, on 10 hits in five innings. Russell walked five and struck out five.
Eight different Goldeyes had at least one hit, while all nine starters reached base. Tanabe finished with three hits and three RBI. Abercrombie also had three hits for Winnipeg.
The Goldeyes open a three-game series against the St. Paul Saints at Shaw Park on Friday night at 7:05 p.m. Duke von Schamann (2-2, 5.27) faces right-hander John Straka (3-1, 6.07).
Tickets for all Goldeyes’ home games are on sale now by calling 1-855-GOLDEYE, visiting www.goldeyes.com, or stopping by any Ticketmaster location, including the box office at Shaw Park. For information on season tickets, 10-Game Mini Packs, or group outings, call the Goldeyes’ office at (204) 982-2273.