WINNIPEG, MB – The Winnipeg Goldeyes (21-20) defeated the Sioux Falls Canaries 8-1 at Shaw Park on Friday evening.
Goldeyes’ starting pitcher Mikey O’Brien (5-2) tossed the first nine-inning complete game of his professional career, holding the Canaries to one earned run on eight hits. O’Brien walked three and struck out a season-high eight batters.
“It’s huge,” said O’Brien of winning the series-opener. “We’re going to play the teams in our division a lot more, so we want to have a winning record against them and win the series against them. It’s good to come out the first game of the series and get a big win and set the tone for the rest of the series.
“The last week or so, our starters haven’t really been going deep in the game, so we’ve been burning through our bullpen. It’s good to give them a night off, and I’m just glad everything was going well for me tonight. Carlton called a great game, and the defence made some plays behind me.”
The Goldeyes supported O’Brien with some early offence, scoring in three consecutive innings. In the bottom of the second, Josh Romanski drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second two batters later when Jacob Rogers fought off a single to left-centre. After Canaries’ starter Joe Bircher struck out Ridge Hoopii-Haslam, Casio Grider singled sharply through the hole on the left side to score Romanski with the game’s first run.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the third, Rogers coaxed a walk from Bircher to force home Wes Darvill from third. Hoopii-Haslam followed with a hard single to left that brought in Romanski and stretched the lead to 3-0.
David Bergin singled home Blake Schmit in the top of the fourth, but the Goldeyes answered with five runs in the bottom of the inning to break the game open. Singles from Carlton Tanabe, Maikol Gonzalez, and Darvill helped load the bases with no outs. David Rohm and Rogers hit back-to-back sacrifice flies to make it 5-0. After Reggie Abercrombie reached on an error by third baseman Ozney Guillen, Rogers singled on a hard grounder to right to score Darvill. Hoopii-Haslam capped the inning with a well-struck, two-run double to centre field.
“We came out swinging, and we needed that,” said O’Brien. “We’ve played a lot of close games the last week or so, a lot of one-run games, and we needed to get a good win with a good cushion up there. ‘Hoopii’ stepped up big for us. He’s come up big in some key situations to get a hit and knock in some runs. It’s good to see that we’re all contributing.”
O’Brien took care of the rest, allowing multiple runners on base just twice during his nine innings of work. O’Brien struck out the side in the top of the eighth, and completed the effort on 132 total pitches. It was O’Brien’s fourth career complete game, and second of 2016.
All nine Goldeyes’ starters reached base at least once, while Rohm, Rogers, Hoopii-Haslam, and Tanabe each had multiple hits. Six of the Goldeyes’ eight runs came with two outs. The team entered the day leading the American Association with a .325 average with two outs and runners in scoring position.
Bircher (0-5) took the loss, allowing eight runs, five earned, on nine hits in four innings of work. Bircher walked five and struck out three.
Game two of the three-game series is Saturday evening at 6:05 p.m. Kevin McGovern (2-1, 4.20) faces left-hander Kris Regas (3-2, 6.56).
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.