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Fish bats fall silent as Lincoln evens series

Goldeyes’ playoff hopes rest on winning two in Nebraska

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Winnipeg Goldeyes' Josh Mazzola's expression says it all in the pouring rain at Shaw Park Thursday night. The game was delayed because of the rain, but the Goldeyes ultimately fell to the Lincoln Saltdogs.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Winnipeg Goldeyes' Josh Mazzola's expression says it all in the pouring rain at Shaw Park Thursday night. The game was delayed because of the rain, but the Goldeyes ultimately fell to the Lincoln Saltdogs. Photo Store

Quiet bats betrayed the Winnipeg Goldeyes on Thursday night and now the team's path to the American Association’s championship series will require some above-average road work.

The Goldeyes' meek hitting left no hope of repeating Wednesday’s Game 1 comeback and the Lincoln Saltdogs easily evened the best-of-five division series 1-1 with a 3-2 victory at Shaw Park.

Today’s a travel day and Game 3 goes in Lincoln on Saturday at 6 p.m.

Lincoln smacked around Winnipeg starter Ethan Hollingsworth for 11 hits in seven innings, causing the home team immense trouble by putting runners in scoring position in each of those seven innings.

The playoff game began in a chilly Scottish mist swirled around by an unpleasant north wind.

The umpires — and the teams — had enough of it by the middle of the third. With the rain increasing, the tarp was pulled back out and the sides cooled their heels and warmed their hands for the next 81 minutes.

When the game resumed at 9:21 p.m., the same plotline continued, with the Saltdogs putting runners on base and the Goldeyes doing little until it was too late.

Some of that was the fine work of Lincoln starter Marquis Fleming, who was a tough opponent as the winning pitcher on Thursday.

Fleming posted a fine 10-3 record during the regular season, including a 3.38 ERA as the workhorse of the Saltdogs' staff.

Winnipeg had very little in the way of solid contact all night. The exception was Donnie Webb’s solo home run over the right field wall to lead off the seventh, his second blast of the series.

But by then, the damage was done.

The Saltdogs were in attack mode early, roughing up Hollingsworth from the outset, a reversal of Hollingsworth’s form late in the season, when he gave up just three runs over his final three starts.

Lincoln took the early lead by cashing singles in the second and third with timely hitting.

After Brian Joynt’s shallow centre-field pop-up was misplayed in the stiff wind by three Goldeyes defenders to lead off the second, he was promptly driven in by Jeremy Hamilton’s sharp single up the middle.

In the third, Tyler Smith belted a double to the wall in right to lead off the inning and then with two out, Matt Forgatch singled him home with another sharp single off of Hollingsworth.

Then, in the fifth, designated hitter Chad Mozingo led off with a single and eventually scored on Ian Gac’s field’s choice. That was actually a late double-play relay after third-baseman Jake Blackwood made a wonderful defensive play and the throw forced Luis Nunez at second for the second out.

Winnipeg showed some life late, pulling the game to within a run in the eighth inning.

But the team could push across just one run after Fleming left the game, as Brock Bond scored after a walk, a Jake Blackwood single and a fielder’s choice.

Tyler Kuhn represented a potential tying run in the eight, but he was stranded at second when Reggie Abercrombie, the Game 1 hero, struck out to end the inning.

Lincoln’s Marshall Shuler came in for the ninth and allowed catcher Luis Allen’s two-out single, getting ahead in the count on each Goldeyes’ batter.

Winnipeg hit into three double-plays on the night, two of them by Abercrombie.

 

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

 

 

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