WINNIPEG, MB – It took 11 innings, a combined 31 hits and almost five hours of playing time, but the Winnipeg Goldeyes (36-29) took the first of a three-game series 16-15 over the Kansas City T-Bones (29-37) on Friday night.

Most of the 5,521 announced fans at Shaw Park stayed were still in attendance when the Goldeyes scored twice in the bottom eighth to stretch the game into extra innings – and they stayed until in the field sprinklers turned on well into the bottom eleventh.

“(It was) pretty entertaining,” Goldeyes manager Rick Forney said after the game. “You don’t see these types of games very often. I was saying to Tom in the eighth inning that I don’t think we’ve had a game like this all year. We were on that roller coaster tonight.”

After Winnipeg starter Mikey O’Brien pitched a scoreless top first, Winnipeg put up five runs in the bottom half of the inning. Maikol Gonzalez hit a leadoff double, Josh Romanski walked and advanced to second on an error, and Willie Cabrera took first on a fielder’s choice before Reggie Abercrombie singled to put the first two runs on the board. David Rohm followed with an RBI sacrifice fly, and Abercrombie later scored on a Casio Grider base hit.

But the T-Bones battled back, scoring in each of the next six innings. After Kansas City put up two in the top second, they took the lead with four runs in the third. A bases-loaded RBI single from Dalton Wheat and another run on an error brought the T-Bones with one, and they made it a 6-5 game on a two-run single off the bat of Brian Erie.

T-Bones first baseman Jake Blackwood led off the fourth with a solo homer, but the Goldeyes answered with two runs later in the inning when Romanski’s double to left field scored Carlton Tanabe and Gonzalez and tied the game at 7.

Kansas City put up four runs in the fifth and two in the sixth before Winnipeg retaliated with a five-run bottom sixth. Romanski hit a one-out single, and Cabrera made it on base on a T-Bones error. Abercrombie then doubled to score Romanski, and Cabrera later scored on the second error of the half inning. Grider doubled to drive Abercrombie home, and Ridge Hoopii-Haslam cut the T-Bones’ lead to 13-12 when he scored two on a 9-5 putout.

The T-Bones added two more in the top seventh, and Winnipeg followed with an RBI double from Cabrera. Robert Tasin and Cameron McVey combined to pitch a scoreless top eighth, while the Goldeyes scored on a productive out from Tanner Murphy, and Romanski walked with the bases loaded to tie the game at 15.

Neither team scored again until the bottom eleventh. Rohm walked with runners on second and third, and Jacob Rogers singled to right to drive in Romanski from third and win the game 16-15.

“You just never know,” Forney said. “When you’ve got a team that wants to win, they’re going to do whatever it takes, and they did it today. Obviously, recording outs is pretty difficult on a day like today, and we didn’t play very good defence, but we had some pretty good at-bats today and some good ones when we needed it.

“We have an opportunistic offence right now. We have some guys that can hurt you in the lineup, whether it’s through their legs or when they’re coming up and getting big hits, and that’s what you have to be if you’re going to be a contender in this thing. You have to capitalize on mistakes, and Kansas City capitalized on our mistakes today, but we were able to control the game a little bit and capitalize on theirs.”

The Goldeyes drew a combined 10 walks and scored seven unearned runs on three Kansas City errors. Winnipeg starter Mikey O’Brien (6-4, 4.77) gave up six runs (five earned) on seven hits through 2 2/3 innings for a no-decision. Forney sent four relievers to the mound, ending with Cameron McVey (2-2, 2.40), who surrendered only one hit in 3 1/3 innings pitched for the win.

“You tip your cap to Cam McVey right there,” Forney said. “He did one hell of a job for us tonight and just made a lot of really good pitches, and he kept the leadoff guy off base for us every inning. I wasn’t sure he was going to be able to go more than two innings, but he proved me wrong.”

Kansas City closer Evan DeLuca (2-3, 3.89) gave up the final run in the eleventh for the loss.

The win keeps the Goldeyes tied with the Laredo Lemurs – who blew out the Wichita Wingnuts in a 12-1 contest on Friday – for first place in the American Association wild card race.

The Goldeyes will send left-hander Kevin McGovern (4-2, 4.40) to face righty Jordan Cooper (3-2, 3.97) in Game 2 of the series Saturday night at 6.

Tickets for all Goldeyes home games are available at the Shaw Park box office or by calling 1-855-GOLDEYE or visiting ticketmaster.ca. All Goldeyes games are broadcast live on 93.7 CJNU and at cjnu.ca.

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