WINNIPEG, MB – The Winnipeg Goldeyes (46-31) beat the Wichita Wingnuts 7-4 at Shaw Park on Saturday evening.
Goldeyes’ starter Mikey O’Brien (9-4) pitched seven strong innings to earn the win. O’Brien allowed four runs, three earned, on seven hits. O’Brien walked one and struck out four.
“It’s nice to be on the right side of the scoreboard at the end of the game,” said Goldeyes’ manager Rick Forney . “But for me, I think the bigger thing is we played a better baseball game. I’m just looking for quality baseball. If we want to extend the season five weeks instead of three, pitching and defence is going to be the way you do it. We’re certainly capable of playing at a pretty high level in this league.”
The Goldeyes supported O’Brien with three early runs. After there were two outs and no one on base, Willie Cabrera doubled to left-centre and scored the game’s first run whenReggie Abercrombie lined a double to the fence in straightaway left. Jacob Rogers and David Rohm each walked to load the bases. Casio Grider lined a two-run double down the left field line to make it 3-0.
“Our offence has been really good now for a month,” said Forney. “Credit the guys. We’ve got an extra positional player around here, and we have good guys. Unfortunately, every night, somebody’s going to have to kind of accept the DH role or accept the day off, but they’re doing a good job of putting their work in and preparing, and it’s showing in the games. We’re having really good at-bats. We drew seven walks today, and we hit a few balls in the gaps, so we’re doing some good things offensively.”
The Wingnuts rallied for three runs in the top of the third to tie the game. Leo Vargas opened the frame with a bunt single and took third on a groundball single to right by Garrett Gould. Vargas came home to make it 3-1 after beating out a rundown play between third base and home plate on a groundball hit by Richard Prigatano. After Christian Stringer singled to centre to load the bases, Gould and Prigatano scored the tying runs on an error charged to Wes Darvill at third base. O’Brien persevered through the inning by striking out Matt Chavez and retiring Martin Medina on an inning-ending double play ball.
Gould, a pitcher, served as Wichita’s designated hitter on Saturday due to a shorthanded roster.
Darvill helped the Goldeyes regain the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth with a line drive single to centre that scored Rohm. Rohm had opened the inning with a single to centre and advanced to second when Grider bunted for a hit.
Cabrera led off the bottom of the fifth with an infield single and went to third on Abercrombie’s second double of the night. After Rogers walked, the Goldeyes made it 5-3 when Cabrera scored on Rohm’s double play groundball. A wild pitch with Grider at the plate ushered in Abercrombie with the Goldeyes’ sixth run. Two pitches later, Grider homered on a high flyball to left-centre.
“Casio had a hell of a night,” said Forney. “First-pitch double down the left field corner in his first at-bat and then a bunt base hit, and (he) hits a big two-out home run. I think all three of his RBIs today were with two outs, and those are important to extend the inning, and he had a hell of a day.”
Brent Dean hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the sixth to cut the Goldeyes’ lead to 7-4, but O’Brien worked a scoreless seventh to keep Winnipeg in front.
Robert Tasin pitched a scoreless top of the eighth, helped by the Goldeyes’ third defensive double play.
Victor Capellan, who worked one and two-thirds innings in his Goldeyes’ debut on Friday night, pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his eighth save of the season. Capellan retired Prigatano on a groundout to third for the final out during a seven-pitch at bat. Prigatano represented the tying run.
Grider finished with three hits and three RBI. Cabrera also had three hits. Rogers walked three times.
The series concludes Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. Ethan Carnes (7-1, 3.12) takes on right-hander Tim Brown (7-2, 4.43).
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.