The children flooded into Shaw Park on Wednesday morning, over 3,000 of them from 34 schools across the province, all taken out to the ballgame.
"Let's go Goldeyes," they cheered, small voices piercing the gentle morning buzz around the field. Their presence, along with a couple thousand tickets sold to to everyday Fish fans, met a new milestone: over five million people have now snagged Goldeyes tickets during the team's 20-season history.
But four hours after the first pitch flew, the kids had mostly gone home, filed onto school buses while the Winnipeg Goldeyes were still battling to sweep their home series against the Laredo Lemurs.
The game went to 11 innings, and by the time the kids left, manager Rick Forney was running out of bullets. He'd gone through almost his entire bullpen -- only closer Patrick Keating didn't make it to the mound -- and something needed to break.
It did, in the 11th inning. Which, for the Goldeyes, was too late: The Fish dropped the third game of the series, 13-8.
Still, they came out ahead in the final account, taking the series two games to one. There was the solid Monday-night outing, where starter Matt Rusch led the squad to a 4-1 win; there was the Tuesday night nailbiter, where outfielder Ryan Scoma came out a hero by hitting a double and a triple for two RBI.
The third game, too, could have gone either way, right up until the Lemurs ran ragged over the Goldeyes in extra time. "I'm certainly proud," Forney said, on his way to the clubhouse after the match.
"You're fortunate if you're able to sweep, but you're going to have days where you make some mistakes, and someone's gonna make you pay for them. It's going to cost you some games every now and then. But overall I thought the guys did a good job this series."