ST. PAUL, MN – The Winnipeg Goldeyes (3-2) are in the American Association Championship Series after beating the St. Paul Saints (2-3) 3-1 in the winner-take-all Division Series finale on Monday night at CHS Field.
The Goldeyes battled back from a 2-1 record at the start of the series, taking Game 4 on a bases-loaded walk to force Game 5.
“After we won last night, I just said thank you, because I get one more day to match up against (St. Paul starter Mark) Hamburger, who’s the best in the league,” Goldeyes designated hitter Adam Heisler said after the game.
Heisler doubled on the first pitch of the night. He advanced to third on a Maikol Gonzalez 4-3 putout and scored later in the top first on a Willie Cabrera single.
“I always pride myself on wanting to be the best I can against the best he can,” Heisler said, “and I was just able to put up a good swing on the first pitch and just felt comfortable and felt like it just ignited everybody. To get us going from early on – that was the plan.”
The Saints held the Goldeyes scoreless in the second, but Winnipeg kept momentum going in the third. Heisler led off with his second double in his second at-bat of the night. Gonzalez then advanced him to third on a sacrifice bunt, and Heisler scored on a Saints error. Reggie Abercrombie then singled to drive Gonzalez in, and the Goldeyes took a 3-1 lead.
Neither team scored again until the bottom ninth. After St. Paul set the Goldeyes down in order, Nate Hanson hit a one-out solo home run off Goldeyes closer Winston Abreu. Angelo Songco then drew a walk, but Abreu struck out the next two batters to face him, and the Goldeyes took the game 3-1 and the series 3-2.
Goldeyes starter Mikey O’Brien (1-1, 0.64) picked up his first win of the post-season, after giving up only four hits and striking out seven through seven scoreless innings. Victor Capellan struck out three allowed only one hit in the eighth, and Winston Abreu picked up his third save of the series after allowing the only Saints run of the night but striking out the side in the bottom ninth.
“That guy the past three starts has been unbelievable on short rest,” Heisler said about O’Brien, who sent the Saints down in order in each of the first three innings. “I’ve never seen anything like it. He’s a bulldog, and I love that guy.”
The Fish are now 5-6 all-time in Game 5s and 3-5 when playing Game 5s on the road.
The Goldeyes and Wichita Wingnuts – who won the other Division Series in four games over the Sioux City Explorers – will play the first two games of the best-of-five Championship Series at Shaw Park on Wednesday and Thursday. Both games will 7:05 p.m., and both teams have yet to announce starting pitchers. The teams will play Game 3 (and Games 4 and 5, if necessary) in Wichita on Saturday.
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.