ST. PAUL, MN – The Winnipeg Goldeyes (18-15) beat the St. Paul Saints 9-8 at CHS Field on Friday night.
Trailing 7-6 in the top of the ninth inning, the Goldeyes rallied for three runs to take the lead. Facing former Major League right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen, Kevin Garcia was struck out leading off, but reached first on a dropped third strike. After Jordan Ebert pinch ran for Garcia, Tucker Nathans hit a groundball in the hole at second base. Saints’ second baseman Luke Petterson fielded the ball before making a high throw to the second base bag that went into left field. With the tying and go-ahead runs on base, Wilhelmsen threw back-to-back wild pitches to usher home Ebert. Dave Sappelt then doubled off the right field wall to drive in Nathans with the lead run. Sappelt has now hit safely in nine consecutive games. Josh Romanski singled Sappelt to third, and the Goldeyes took a 9-7 lead when Reggie Abercrombie hit a sacrifice fly to deep left on an 0-2 count.
In the bottom of the ninth, Brady Shoemaker hit a two-out double off the right-centre field wall that scored Anthony Phillips from first. After the Goldeyes intentionally walked Noah Perio Jr., Dante Bichette Jr. flied out to Sappelt on the left field warning track to end the game.
Victor Capellan (2-2) picked up the win in relief for the Goldeyes. Wilhelmsen (0-1) took the loss for the Saints (19-14). St. Paul had been 15-0 this season when leading after eight innings, while the Goldeyes were 0-9 when trailing after eight.
The Goldeyes took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Eric Aguilera and Andrew Sohn opened the frame with singles. Three batters later, Garcia lined a two-out, two-run double into the left field corner to score both runners.
With two outs and no one on base in the top of the third, Abercrombie beat out an infield single and stole second base. It was Abercrombie’s 497th career stolen base. The Saints intentionally walked Aguilera, and the Goldeyes stretched the lead to 4-0 when Sohn hit a two-run double down the right field line.
The Saints rallied for four runs in the bottom of the third to tie the game. Petterson led off with a double in his first career professional at bat. After Kes Carter struck out, Phillips walked, and the Saints loaded the bases on a Max Murphy infield single. Shoemaker then cut Winnipeg’s lead in half with a two-run single through the left side. Perio Jr. singled to centre, driving in Murphy with the Saints’ third run. Two batters later, Richard Prigatano doubled home Shoemaker with two outs.
The Saints took their first lead of the series in the bottom of the fourth. With the bases loaded and one out, Perio Jr. lifted a sacrifice fly to centre that scored Phillips. Bichette Jr. nearly broke the game open, hitting a long fly ball to left that appeared to clear fence. Sappelt, however, made a leaping catch over the wall to pull back what would have been a three-run home run.
Calvin Drummond escaped a bases loaded, one-out jam in the bottom of the fifth when Phillips grounded into an inning-ending double play. Drummond was making his Goldeyes’ debut.
The Saints added two runs in the bottom of the sixth to move ahead 7-4. Bichette Jr. singled home Murphy, while Petterson reached on a two-out error with the bases loaded that plated Shoemaker.
Nathans singled through the left side with one out in the top of the seventh. Sappelt followed with a walk that brought the tying run to the plate. St. Paul brought in left-hander Kenneth Frosch to face Romanski, and Romanski doubled down the right field line to score Nathans and cut the Saints’ lead to 7-5. Left-handed batters had been 0-for-28 against Frosch entering the game. The Saints escaped further trouble when Murphy threw out Sappelt at the plate on an attempted sacrifice fly.
After Jack Charleston worked a scoreless bottom of the seventh, Aguilera singled through the left side leading off the top of the eighth. Sohn lifted a fly ball to deep right-centre that broke off Carter’s glove. It was ruled, however, that Carter caught the ball. Aguilera was doubled off the base paths as a result. Grant Heyman was next, and pulled a solo home run to right-centre that made it a one-run game. Goldeyes’ hitting coach Tom Vaeth and Aguilera were then ejected arguing the double play call.
Capellan took over in the bottom of the eighth and struck out two during a scoreless inning to give the Goldeyes a chance in the ninth.
Mitchell Lambson started for Winnipeg and took a no-decision, allowing four earned runs on six hits in three innings. Lambson walked two and struck out four.
Matthew Solter started for the Saints and also took a no-decision, allowing four earned runs on seven hits in five and two-thirds. Solter walked one and struck out six.
Eight different Goldeyes had at least one base hit with Sohn finishing with three.
Game three of the four-game series is Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. Charle Rosario (2-2, 3.30) goes for Winnipeg. John Straka (1-0, 0.00) pitches for St. Paul. All the action can be heard locally on 93.7 FM CJNU and worldwide at www.cjnu.ca Coverage begins at 6:00 p.m. with Around the Association.
The Goldeyes return home on Monday when they host the Wichita Wingnuts to kick off a seven-game homestand. Tickets for all Goldeyes’ home games are on sale now by visiting www.ticketmaster.ca/Goldeyes, or visiting any Ticketmaster location, including the box office at Shaw Park.