THE sun was setting over Shaw Park by the time the Goldeyes clambered out of the hole they’d dug themselves in daylight, but the night was bright with victory.
It didn't begin that way on Tuesday, not as the Fish trailed the visiting Sioux Falls Canaries from the very first inning, as starting pitcher Matt Rusch stumbled in the first inning and the order struggled to get going. For the third frame, the fourth, the fifth and the sixth, the scoreboard was stubbornly stuck at 4-2, and Fish fans shuffled in their seats. They'd seen this show before over the course of this bumpy Goldeyes season.
Then the impasse broke, and when it did, the Fish surged forth, tying the game with a big seventh inning, then leaping over the Canaries with a bold performance at the plate in the eighth. The tying run, a scamper by base-thieving centre-fielder Tyler Graham on a Ray Sadler double, looked to raise the team's spirits.
The Fish then loaded the bases in the next inning and Amos Ramon made no mistake at the plate, driving the ball deep into right field. Canaries outfielder Nate Baumann dove to catch it but it skipped just past his glove while pinch-runner Jordan Guida (dashing for heavy-hitting infielder Casey Haerther) and shortstop Josh Mazzola ran past home to put the Fish up by two.
In the top of the ninth, the Fish clinched their win with a huge double-play -- the ball flying from Mazzola to Mosequit to Haerther -- to claim the win.
Centre-fielder Tyler Graham had a big night at the top of the order, banging out three singles on five turns at the plate and scoring twice. He was already smeared with dirt by the end of the first inning after sliding into a second-base steal, his first of two on the night. He's been on-base in 21 of the 20 games he's played with the Goldeyes, by the way.
Reliever Brendan Lafferty has been a beauty out of the bullpen most of the season, and Tuesday was no exception: with the game tied at the top of the eighth, the southpaw walked to the mound, quickly struck out two batters and only let outfielder Nate Baumann swat for an easy out at first base.
óó KEY PLAY
Infielder Ramon's big two-RBI double in the eighth may have sealed the deal, but the architecture of that hit was made possible by left-fielder Fehlandt Lentini, whose sacrifice bunt a few minutes earlier gave Guida and Mazzola a chance to line up in scoring position. Lentini had a solid contribution earlier too. The veteran doubled in his first at-bat, then stole third and scored the Goldeyes' second run while Alen, the very next Fish batter, was still at the plate.
óó FISH WRAP
A robust crowd of just over 6,100 fans turned out to Shaw Park even on the lukewarm Tuesday night, as the Goldeyes keep leaping to the top of the American Association's attendance rankings. The Fish average more than 5,800 fans per game, ahead of the second-place Kansas City T-Bones, who average 5,668.
óó ON THE HOOK
The Fish have 11 more games left on this lengthy homestand, continuing Wednesday with a 7 p.m. tilt against the Canaries. The two teams will close the series with a noon matinee on Thursday.
-- Melissa Martin