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Hot-hitting Mazzola, Fish have their steak and eat it, too

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — In a place where corn fields are literally a stone’s throw from the ball diamond, go figure that a guy named Mazzola would be cooking at the plate.

OK, so it’s Mazola corn oil. But it’s Winnipeg Goldeyes’ Josh Mazzola who continued his torrid hitting streak on a sweltering Thursday night, launching his second home runon consecutive nights — and team-leading 12th this season — to lead the Fish to an 8-4 victory over the Kansas City T-Bones at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.

The 26-year-old from Santee, Calif., finished the three-game series with six runs batted in, giving him 52 on the season, also tops for the Fish.

As for that corn oil theory?

"Yeah, it’s spelled differently," Mazzola said. "Missed out on that fortune."

But Mazzola didn’t miss much else in Kansas City.

"You come out, play hard and compete," he said. "That’s what we did."

Mazzola shrugged off his personal stats. "I don’t want to get comfortable with it," he said.

Goldeyes manager Rick Forney was more succinct concerning Mazzola’s output.

"He killed it this series," Forney said.

With the victory, the Goldeyes (41-29) remain in the lead for the AA’s wild-card berth, three games up on St. Paul and Kansas City. The Saints lost 4-1 to the league-leading Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks Thursday night in St. Paul. Winnipeg still trails the RedHawks by 4.5 games in the North Division standings.

Winnipeg starter Matt Rusch, who entered the game with the league’s best earned run average (2.28), pitched a tidy gem, surrendering six hits and three earned runs in 6 2/3 innings. The right-hander, who took a no-hitter into the sixth, struck out six T-Bones and walked none.

"You try not to (think of the no-hitter)," Rusch said. "You’re just trying to get the next guy out. Every time I thought about it I just told myself, ‘No’. But it creeps in and makes you focus a little bit better."

Forney, meanwhile, called Rusch’s start clutch.

"Matt really stepped up for us," the manager noted. "It’s always nice to have a veteran starter give you everything they’ve got. No hits in five innings. What more can you say?"

Goldeyes veteran Chris Roberson, meanwhile, was four-for-five at the plate, with two RBI, two runs scored and two stolen bases. A triple double. Kyle Day and Luis Alen were also 2-for-4 on the night, with an RBI apiece.

"Good start to the road trip to go two-out-of-three here," Rusch concluded.

Winnipeg’s road trip will continue with another three-game set in Sioux City, beginning tonight in Iowa.

randy.turner@freepress.mb.ca

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