Andrew "Ace" Walker's nickname isn't Ace because he's an ace pitcher, but it ought to be.
Supported by a pair of two-run homers by Yurendell de Caster and Josh Mazzola, the veteran hurler did the heavy lifting on Monday to lead the Winnipeg Goldeyes to a third straight win with a 6-1 victory over the Sioux Falls Pheasants before a crowd of 4,685 at Shaw Park.
Walker, who earned the Ace moniker in his teen years when he was a fan of Jim Carrey's Ace Ventura: Pet Detective movie character, pitched seven innings, allowing just one run on eight hits with no walks while fanning seven batters. Walker threw 80 strikes on 110 pitches.
The Goldeyes hold a one-game lead over Fargo and are four games up on Sioux Falls in the American Association's North Division.
"It (getting the win) means a lot to the team, especially against division rivals like this. This is a big homestand for us and we need every win we can get to distance ourselves from these guys," said Walker, who has a 5-2 record. "Getting run support like that, that was great. It gives every pitcher on our team confidence to go out there and get the job done."
Winnipeg and Sioux Falls will meet again tonight at 7 p.m. in the final meeting of their four-game set. The Goldeyes have a 3-4 record after seven games of this 12-game homestand.
The Pheasants, who have failed to score more than one run in all three meetings this week with Winnipeg, might have felt so frustrated, they were seeing purple.
There was plenty of purple but it was because the Goldeyes wore special purple uniforms in honour of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Night.
The Pheasants have lost five in a row, as did the Goldeyes last week.
"We've been kind of on the skids a little bit the last few games but there's highs and lows in a 100-game season, so we're going to kind of go about this in a way where we're hoping to get things going again (tomorrow)," said Sioux Falls manager Steve Shirley.
An RBI double by right-fielder Kyle Day put Winnipeg on the board in the second inning. Sioux Falls scored its only run in the fourth when third baseman Jake Taylor's single scored left-fielder Jared Bolden.
Winnipeg replied with Mazzola's two-run dinger in the fourth and de Caster's two-run shot in the fifth for a 5-1 lead. A single by shortstop David Narodowski in the eighth scored Mazzola.
Mazzola went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBI, de Caster was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI, Day went 2-for-3 with an RBI and left-fielder Jon Weber was 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.
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