The Winnipeg Goldeyes kept it interesting for 6,213 fans at Shaw Park, but they couldn’t come away with a victory in the bottom of the ninth, thanks in part to giving up a four-run inning earlier Wednesday night.
Saltdogs second baseman David Espinosa helped his team get to an early lead. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Ian Gac in the first inning and hit a sacrifice fly of his own in the third for a 2-0 Saltdogs lead.
The Goldeyes replied in the third with two runs of their own to even the game. Right-fielder Ray Sadler hit an RBI triple to bring in Amos Ramon. Sadler was brought in on the next play by Ryan Scoma, who was tagged out at first.
After tacking on another run in the fourth, the Saltdogs added four more in the fifth inning after running through their entire batting order. Saltdogs third baseman Curt Smith smacked his third double of the night to bring in a run and with two runners on base, Gac hit a three-run home run for a 7-2 lead.
However, the Goldeyes responded with three runs on two hits in the bottom of the inning. Designated hitter Casey Haerther hit an RBI double and Josh Mazzola hit a home run for the third game in a row to bring himself and Haerther home to trail 7-5.
Goldeyes pitcher Justin Garcia took the loss to drop to 5-5 for the season, pitching 5 2/3 innings and allowing seven runs on eight hits.
Both teams went scoreless in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, leaving the Goldeyes with one more inning to make a comeback. After keeping the Saltdogs runless in the top of the ninth frame, the Goldeyes could only manage one run in the ninth and left two runners stranded.
Gac was responsible for bringing in four of the Saltdogs seven runs. He had one hit in two at bats, including a three-run home run in the fifth inning, and forced the Goldeyes to play catch- up for the remainder of the game.
Mazzola wielded the most-effective bat for the Goldeyes, with three hits in five at-bats and three RBI.
After Ramon was brought in for a run in the final inning, Fehlandt Lentini stepped up to the plate with two outs, and Sadler and pinch runner Chris Salamida on base. Lentini hit an infield grounder that wouldn't be enough. The left-fielder was tagged out at first and the Goldeyes dropped their first game of the series against Lincoln.
Mazzola reached a new milestone with his three RBI. The Goldeyes shortstop has now hit 300 RBI in his career.
ON THE HOOK
The Goldeyes will cap off their series with Lincoln tonight at Shaw Park with the first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m. They head to Fargo-Moorhead tomorrow to play a three-game series with the RedHawks.
-- Kyle Jahns