By Ashley Prest
Winnipeg Goldeyes right-fielder Josh Mazzola hit his 15th home run of the 2012 American Association baseball season on Monday night to help lift his team to a 20-16 victory over the Sioux Falls Pheasants at Shaw Park.
A crowd of 5,029 saw the Goldeyes score 20 runs for the first time ever at Shaw Park, open since 1999, and score 20 at home for the first time since 1997 at Winnipeg Stadium.
Winnipeg (43-31) will meet Sioux Falls (34-41) again on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Shaw Park with Matt Rusch (7-2, 2.40) expected to start for Winnipeg and Barry Fowler (1-0, 2.08) starting for the Pheasants.
The Goldeyes now have a three-game lead for the league's wild-card playoff berth.
Winnipeg fell behind 6-0 in the first inning, chipped away at that deficit, stormed back to take the lead with a six-run sixth inning, scored five runs in the seventh highlighted by Mazzola’s two-run bomb over the left-field wall with none out in the bottom of the seventh and scored five in the eighth.
The Pheasants refused to go down without a fight, scoring nine runs in the top of the ninth inning, including a three-run home run with two out by Cristian Guerrero, off relievers Kaohi Downing and Alex Jones and newcomer Chris Allen who got the final out. Chris Salamida (3-5) recorded the win while Sioux Falls reliever Dan Cooper (1-5) took the loss.
Mazzola, who went 3-for-4 with four runs and four RBI, is second in the league in home runs.
"I think we all kind of expected him to be one of the leaders on our team in extra-base hits and RBI and if you look at his career numbers, he’s always been very productive in that area," said Goldeyes manager Rick Forney.
Pitcher Chris Allen was part of a three-player deal swung earlier Monday by Forney, who traded pitcher Dexter Carter and a player to be named later to the Gary SouthShore RailCats for outfielder Mike Coles and Allen.
Coles went 2-for-4 at the plate, had a walk and scored three runs. The Goldeyes were led by designated hitter Jon Weber who had one hit, scored a run and had four RBI, short stop Jose Duran who went 2-for-2 with three walks and scored three runs. Goldeyes infielder Yurendell de Caster hit a triple while centre-fielder Chris Roberson, de Caster, third baseman Amos Ramon and Duran all hit doubles.
Sioux Falls outfielder and former Goldeye Ridge Carpenter hit a three-run home run in the first inning for the Pheasants.
Diamond Dust: Forney said he’s not done tinkering with his roster as he hopes to add "another reliever or two" before the Aug. 24 roster deadline...Winnipeg CF Chris Roberson is on a 20-game hitting streak and C Luis Alen is on a 12-game hitting streak.