WINNIPEG, MB – If free passes were free college credit, the Winnipeg Goldeyes (27-25) may have earned a full scholarship on Wednesday night, defeating the Sioux City Explorers 17-3 at Shaw Park in front of 5,441 spectators.
The Goldeyes tied a franchise single-game record drawing 14 offensive walks. The Goldeyes last accomplished the feat on June 1st, 1996 in a 19-9 win over the Thunder Bay Whiskey Jacks at Winnipeg Stadium. All nine of the Goldeyes’ starters had at least one hit and one run scored.
After Goldeyes’ starter Kevin McGovern (3-1) pitched a scoreless top of the first, a single from Maikol Gonzalez and a walk to Josh Romanski set up an opposite field, three-run home run to right field from Willie Cabrera . Cabrera finished the night with four hits in five at bats.
“Those guys in the top of the order, they really set the tone for us today,” said Cabrera. “Sioux City’s a tough ball club. (They have) good pitchers, so for the guys at the top of the order to get on base and to set the tone early, we kind of just fed off of those guys. Guys are starting to see the ball a lot better. They’re starting to get the pitches that they want to hit, and they wait for them and wait and wait. When pitchers don’t give them up, we’ll take our walks, which is good to see.”
Cabrera led off the third with a double to deep centre field. Reggie Abercrombie followed with a long double to right-centre that scored Cabrera to make it 4-0. Jacob Rogers walked, and two batters later, Wes Darvill blooped a single to left-centre that loaded the bases with one out. Tanner Murphy coaxed a walk from Explorers’ starter Ryan Zimmerman (2-8) that forced home Abercrombie with the Goldeyes’ fifth run. Adam Heisler then cleared the bases with a towering grand slam homer to right-centre.
“It was one of those days, you know,” said Cabrera of his performance. “You see the ball pretty good. You hope for those every single day, but it’s baseball. It’s not going to be that way. So when it comes around, you’ve got to enjoy it.”
The Explorers scratched out a run in the top of the fourth. Nate Samson led off with a double, stole third, and scored two batters later on an RBI groundout from Tommy Mendonca. Jake Kuebler opened the fifth with a double and was plated on a groundball to second from Tim Colwell, cutting the Goldeyes’ lead to 9-2.
The Goldeyes stretched their lead further with a four-run bottom of the fifth. Romanski lined a single to centre leading off and took third when Cabrera doubled to right-centre. Abercrombie legged out an infield single on a grounder up the middle to score Romanski and make it 10-2. Later in the inning, Murphy hit a sharp, two-run single up the middle with two outs to extend the lead to 12-2. Heisler followed Murphy with a line drive, RBI single to right to cap of the rally.
“Playing with St. Paul and coming in here, we’ve had some big crowds too,” said Cabrera on the Shaw Park atmosphere. “But to be on this side of the dugout and see the support and everything they give us, we feed off of them as well. The energy in the ballpark, it’s electric. It’s nice, especially when you’re playing and you’re trying to win a title and trying to get to playoffs and stuff like that. That’s huge. That’s huge for you.”
Sioux City (24-27) scored its final run in the sixth on a two-out, RBI single up the middle from Brendan Slattery.
McGovern earned the win for the Goldeyes, allowing three earned runs on five hits in six and two-thirds innings. McGovern walked four and struck out three.
With two outs and no one on base in the seventh, Murphy and Heisler worked out walks, leading to a three-run homer to left-centre from Gonzalez. The Goldeyes have hit 13 home runs in their last six games.
Murphy drove in the Goldeyes’ 17th run with a sacrifice fly to left in the bottom of the eighth.
Brandon Shimo relieved McGovern with two outs in the seventh, and worked two and one-third shutout innings to close out the game.
Zimmerman took the loss, allowing nine earned runs on eight hits in two and one-third innings. Zimmerman walked five and struck out one.
Heisler finished with five RBI, tying a career single-game high set on May 28th of this year at Lincoln. Heisler and Romanski each drew four walks. Murphy had four RBI, and reached base five total times in addition to his sacrifice fly. Heisler, Gonzalez, Cabrera, Abercrombie, Rogers, Grider, Darvill, and Murphy all had multi-hit nights.
Sioux City right-hander Bubba Maxwell made his professional debut in the bottom of the third when he relieved Zimmerman. Maxwell became the fourth pitcher to make his professional debut against the Goldeyes this season.
The series finale is Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. Edwin Carl (3-5, 6.26) takes on left-hander Cody Forsythe (4-3, 5.74).
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.