WICHITA, KS – For the third time this postseason, the Winnipeg Goldeyes faced elimination and won. This time, the Goldeyes took Game 4 of the American Association Championship Series 5-4 over the Wichita Wingnuts at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium on Sunday night.
“It was tight,” Goldeyes manager Rick Forney said. “We got out of the gates fast, and we swung the bats well in the first inning.”
The Goldeyes scored four runs in the top first, starting with a one-out solo home run from Maikol Gonzalez. Willie Cabrera followed with a four-pitch walk, and Reggie Abercrombie hit a two-run shot over the left field wall to make it 3-0. After David Rohm was hit by a pitch and Casio Grider flied out to right, Wes Darvill singled to drive in Reggie Abercrombie.
Winnipeg starter Edwin Carl set the Wingnuts down in order in the bottom first. Both teams put a runner on base in the second, but neither team scored again until the bottom fourth. T.J. Mittelstaedt drew a two-out walk, Matt Chavez singled, and Nick Van Stratten scored Mittelstaedt on a base hit.
“When you go up against a team like Wichita, and you throw up four runs in the top of the first, they’ve still got nine cracks at it,” said Forney. “You just can’t stop scoring against that team. They’re the best hitting team in the league for a reason.”
The Wingnuts offence proved this in the bottom sixth. Mittelstaedt kicked off the inning with a solo home run. After Victor Capellan entered the game in relief of Carl, Van Stratten hit a one-out double, and Harrison Kain brought him home on a two-run homer to make it a 5-4 game.
“They’re tough,” Forney said about the Wingnuts’ hitters. “They worked our best relievers as hard as they could. Our guys made just enough pitches.”
With one out and one on in the bottom eighth, Goldeyes closer Winston Abreu took the mound. Martin Medina flied out to centre, but Leo Vargas advanced to first on a dropped third strike. Abreu then struck out Christian Stringer swinging to end the inning.
Adam Heisler and Cabrera both walked in the top ninth, but Abercrombie hit into a double play before Winnipeg could score any insurance runs.
Abreu struck out the first two batters to face him but gave up a two-out single to Mittelstaedt. With Chavez representing the winning run at the plate, Abreu recorded a three-pitch strikeout to keep the Goldeyes’ championship hopes alive.
“If he made a mistake right there, the game could’ve been over,” Forney said.
“Tip your cap to them,” Wingnuts manager Pete Rose Jr. said about the Goldeyes. “They’re a great team. They’re here for a reason. They had our number tonight.”
The Goldeyes pitchers combined for 14 total strikeouts on Sunday. Carl (3-0, 2.59) took his second win of the series after giving up two runs on five hits and striking out seven.
Capellan made his eighth appearance in nine postseason games this season, giving up two runs on three hits through two outs in the sixth. Eric Eadington pitched the next 1 2/3 scoreless innings, and Abreu picked up his fourth postseason save after striking out five and giving up only one hit in the final five outs.
Wichita starter Tyler Kane (0-1, 8.30) took the loss. He allowed five runs on seven hits through 4 1/3 innings.
The Goldeyes and Wingnuts will play the winner-take-all Game 5 on Monday night at 7.
“Hopefully we’ve got one more,” Forney said. “It’s not easy. It’s not the ideal situation, but if the game was easy, everybody’d be playing. We have a pretty resilient group. They’ve been okay all year … I expect them to come out and lay it on the line tomorrow.”
Left-hander Kevin McGovern (0-1, 3.65) will start Game 5 for the Goldeyes, and right-hander Alex Boshers (2-0, 3.00) will take the mound for the Wingnuts. Rose Jr. said right-hander Tim Brown might also see a few innings.
“It’s all hands on deck,” he said. “We’ve got the whole off-season to rest.”
Game 5 will broadcast live on 93.7 CJNU and online at cjnu.ca.
Call the Goldeyes office at 204-982-2273 for information about 2017 season tickets, 10-game mini packs or group outings.