WINNIPEG GOLDEYES 8 - LINCOLN SALTDOGS - 5
After a couple of games where the offence sputtered cold, the Goldeyes came into the series opener against Lincoln and found the bats they'd been looking for.
There they were, in the bottom of an explosive sixth inning, and all of a sudden Fish hitters just kept on hitting. They hammered out five hits in that frame, four of them against Saltdogs reliever Jake Meiers, and three of them had power: Josh Mazzola doubled, Reggie Abercrombie slammed a homer that scored them both. Then first baseman Casey Haerther doubled to get on the bags and... well, the parade continued from there.
By the time the inning was done, the Goldeyes had scooped up four runs, and launched themselves to a 6-4 lead.
The Saltdogs responded in the top of the eighth with a solo homer from catcher Chris Anderson to close the gap. Then they put two more runners on base, and threatened to take the lead back, but a nifty double-play from shortstop Tyler Kuhn to Josh Mazzola -- filling in at first base, at that point, with Haerther injured -- eliminated the threat.
In the bottom of the eighth, Jake Blackwood bought the Fish some insurance. With two runners on base -- catcher Luis Alen had singled, and Kuhn took a walk from Saltdogs reliever Trey Barham -- the second baseman stepped up and walloped out a double that drove them home.
After scoring just three runs in their last two games, the offensive outburst surely came as a relief. True, it took a little time in coming on Thursday, as the Goldeyes managed five hits and two runs against Saltdogs starter Zach Vance. They cracked the scoreboard in the third, when Kuhn -- brilliant at the plate this season, and again in this tilt -- hit a triple, and Blackwood's sacrifice fly sent him home.
Kuhn would be a key cog in the attack again in the fifth, when his double scored Ryan Pineda. He ended up polishing his already glowing stats by putting up three hits on four at-bats, with two RBI and two runs of his own. Meanwhile, Abercrombie also struck on 75 per cent of his at-bats.
Eac hit, in that breakout sixth, had some weight. But let's give a tip of the hat to Abercrombie, the former major leaguer who started this season by struggling at the plate, even kept hitless in the last two games. Well, when he blasted the ball over the left field fence -- he celebrated with a good ol' bat-flip -- it tied the score at four apiece. It also gave the Goldeyes a needed shot of momentum, as they tore up Saltdogs hurler Meier's pitches.
ON THE MOUND
Busy night on the mound, as the Goldeyes rolled through six pitchers. Starter Nick Hernandez hurled for 4.2 innings, giving up nine hits and four earned runs, walking one and striking out four. After that, Forney almost emptied the bullpen, sending Gabe Aguilar (who was credited with the win), Jeff Stoner, Brendan Lafferty, Kyle Bellamy and finally Chris Kissock out to play. They combined for three hits and one run in the latter half of the game.
The Goldeyes, now 9-5, will look to keep the momentum going tonight in the second of four games against Lincoln. They swept the Saltdogs just last week, and would surely like to repeat that feat. Then they're off for a seven-game swing through Sioux Falls and Fargo.