Amos RAMON watched his team storm the field and surround him with hugs and pats on the back Wednesday night. The Goldeyes third baseman had just driven in a ninth-inning winning walk-off run against the Sioux City Explorers to keep the Fish's hot streak alive at Shaw Park.
"I like being in those situations. I like being in that part of the game. That's why you play the game, to get into that part where you can be the hero," Ramon said. "It's like when you're a little kid and you're shooting around the basketball. Three, two, one, you shoot it and it's a buzzer-beater, it's the same thing in baseball."
The Winnipeg Goldeyes have won 11 of the past 14 games at Shaw Park and things just seem to be clicking for the team at home.
"I think guys are feeling a lot better when they're home and not being on the road. We were on the road for that Quebec trip for a while, and I think that when we just got back everybody was ready to get home and feel comfortable and get into the routine again," Ramon said. "That's key for baseball, as long as you get into your routine and stick to it, it kind of plays out itself."
Ramon has done just that. During the Goldeyes 10-game road trip through the CanAm league in the middle of July, Ramon went through his worst streak of the season, going one-for-31 tries.
But now, Goldeyes manager Rick Forney is seeing a completely new player at Shaw Park.
"He likes playing here. He's always swung the bat well in our park," Forney said. "He seems to be getting some big hits here for us lately, especially last homestand and he did it again for us (Wednesday) night. He came up big for us."
Ramon's success has not been an individual effort. The Goldeyes team chemistry has been challenged with ups and downs through the regular season, but lately the roster has been clicking and having fun.
"We're with each other all the time when we're in the clubhouse, playing cards and doing everything. Guys are funny and this is a great group of guys. We like hanging out and do a lot of stuff like the crazy things we do in there," Ramon said, referring to the laughter, music and singing heard in the background.
Forney sees it in his guys, too. And it makes his job easier.
"We've never had a clubhouse issue all year. This is one of the best group of guys we've ever had. They all get along well, they're all professional, they come to work every day and the attitude's good," Forney said. "They still work hard, come early, go down to the cage and do whatever they need to do to prepare. They've been good. Real good."
The Goldeyes manager believes his team needs to pick up around 15-20 wins in the rest of the regular season to stay competitive in the wild-card race.
That's quite a tall order, with 25 games left as of Thursday night. Fourteen of those games will be at Shaw Park including a critical homestand at the end of the regular season against division rivals the St. Paul Saints and Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.