Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Goldeyes claim 14-9 win in season opener

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AMARILLO, Tex. -- On a hot, dusty and windy opening night here Friday, the Winnipeg Goldeyes found out a seven-run deficit doesn't mean much when the big sticks of Luis Alen and Matt Cusick are in the lineup.

Alen cracked a three-run home run in the top of the sixth inning and Cusick hit a grand slam in the top of the seventh to help boost the Goldeyes to a 14-9 win in their 2012 season opener in Amarillo National Bank Sox Stadium before 6,518 fans. The game took three hours and 43 minutes. Alen led the Goldeyes with three hits, four RBI while left-fielder Jon Weber had three hits and three RBI. Shortstop Price Kendall and first baseman Yurendell de Caster each scored three runs.

The most runs a Goldeyes team has ever scored on opening day is 15 in 1996.

The Goldeyes and the Sox meet again here tonight at 7 p.m. in the second game of the three-game series.

The temperature at opening pitch was 34 C, a dry heat with winds gusting up to 40 kilometres per hour. As it cooled off, the Goldeyes heated up scoring 13 straight runs after having trailed 8-1 after four innings.

"We were kind of down, a little shocked, but this isn't a normal baseball field," Cusick said, referring to the fact the park has bigger dimensions including a centre-field depth that is 429 feet, and the high winds. "You can score in a hurry. But some of the veterans like Weber and de Caster kept us in it. You have to stay mentally tough and focused to play here."

The Goldeyes got into trouble early, trailing 5-1 after the Sox scored four runs in the second inning. While the Sox were having no trouble hitting Goldeyes starting pitcher Ace Walker, the wind caused the Goldeyes some consternation in the outfield.

The Sox got a pair of home runs from shortstop Jason White and Cyle Hankerd en route to three runs in the fourth inning off Goldeyes relief pitcher Brian Leach to take what looked like a commanding seven-run Sox lead.

In the fifth inning, Winnipeg third baseman Amos Ramon scored his team's second run on a single by centre-fielder Chris Roberson to trail 8-2. Then the Goldeyes bats fired up.

After Alen's three-run shot and an RBI single from left-fielder Jon Weber, the Goldeyes trailed 8-6 after six innings.

In the seventh inning, the Goldeyes scored seven runs including an RBI single from Alen to trail by one, Cusick's grand slam with none out to take a 11-8 lead and two runs were walked in for a 13-8 lead. Winnipeg batted around in the seventh with 13 batters going to the plate.

In the bottom of the ninth, with the Fish up 14-9, closer Nick Carr came into the game with none out and two on. He did a solid job and Roberson caught back-to-back deep fly balls to end the game.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 19, 2012 C1

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