AFTER showing few signs of life for most of Friday night's game, the Goldeyes mounted a remarkable comeback attempt that came, just barely, too late.
It was sort of incredible, really. Almost five thousand people turned out to Shaw Park to see the first of four tilts against the visiting Trois-Rivi®res Aigles, but for most of the game, the stadium was quiet under the rustle of the wind. Not the fans' fault: they watched patiently as the Fish flopped at the plate and were burned by a bad start off the mound.
Then, in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Goldeyes found a spark. Though they'd only managed five hits and one run through the first eight innings of the game, in the final frame they sent three runners past home plate on five base hits. They could even have walked in a win then, as first baseman Ryan Scoma and designated hitter Casey Haerther went to bat with the bases loaded. Both struck out, and that was that.
Strange to call it a heartbreaker, when the game that came before barely got the blood pumping. At first, it seemed as if it might go all right, as Fish starting pitcher Justin Garcia struck out two batters at the top of the first. The Fish made a quick strike at the bottom of that inning, as right-fielder Ray Sadler batted in speedy outfield colleague Tyler Graham to put the fish up 1-zip.
Sadly, the home team couldn't muster a single hit for five of the game's nine innings and didn't score again until the ninth. Meanwhile, the Aigles devoured the Fish in the fourth, running through their entire batting lineup en route to four scores.
Heck, the Aigles opened that one with four singles in a row, which was enough to prompt Forney to yank Garcia. Rookie pitcher Gabe Aguilar came in for relief and stood strong, giving up three hits and striking out four, but by that point the damage had been done.
The visitors' starting pitcher Alexander Burkard schooled the Fish for awhile, giving up only four base hits and a single run in seven full innings.
The Aigles were up 3-1 in the fourth when their catcher, Emerson Frostad, hit a big three-run double to put 'em up to six -- an insurance policy the visitors needed to cash in on, in the end.
óó KEY PLAY
Well, let's give the Fish a little credit. After the Goldeyes hitters struggled for so much of the game, Josh Mazzola singled to get on base in the bottom of the ninth and when catcher Luis Alen came out, he looked ready to do some damage. He did: his double flew down centre field to send Mazzola home, sent a roar through the crowd and seemed to spark the rest of the dugout. The next four batters all singled, and drove home two more scores.
óó ON THE HOOK
The Aigles are in town through Monday, with the second game of the series slated for 6 p.m. today at Shaw Park.
-- Melissa Martin