The Winnipeg Goldeyes' swings caught fire under Friday's sweltering heat, as their bats blazed to a 14-7 victory over the visiting St. Paul Saints.
That's the biggest score the Fish have racked up thus far in their bumpy season, and a flashy way to clinch a 3-1 series win over their division rivals. If there were any lingering whispers about the toothless offence of weeks past, consider them put to rest: the entire order ravaged the Saints' struggling pitchers, as every Goldeyes batter registered at least one hit, and scored or batted in at least one run.
Some of the stats are downright gaudy, starting with the Fish's 18 hits. Outfielder Mike Coles hit a double, an RBI single and got on base twice more (through a walk and a fielder's choice) in five tries. He would cross home plate three times. Designated hitter Ryan Scoma, whose return last week from injury shot some juice into the order, slammed out hits in his first three at-bats and got walked on the fourth; he batted in a run and scored two himself.
The list goes on (and on, and...) but the hottest swinger in the order belonged to infielder Amos Ramon, who continued his recent red-hot play with a monster outing at the plate. Ramon opened the series against the Saints by knocking out two home runs on Tuesday; he wrapped it Friday by torching the visitors for four hits, two runs and two RBI in six trips to the plate.
The resurgent offence also cut a revenge song a little short. The Saints began the night with pitcher Aaron Correa, a southpaw who the Goldeyes released on July 2. It might have been a crafty move to start a former Fish, except the Goldeyes sluggers appeared to have their ex-teammate all figured out, torching him for nine hits and five runs in just over two innings to chase him. The Saints put Dustin Klabunde in his place.
By then, the Goldeyes had clambered out of a first-inning hole to take a 5-4 lead -- one they would build on, and hold.
It wasn't immediately obvious this is how the game would unfold. It opened with a near-repeat of Thursday night's first-frame slide, as the Saints racked up four runs thanks in part to a three-run homer from designated hitter Ole Sheldon. But the Goldeyes, led by starting pitcher Justin Garcia, managed to mostly shut the visitors down for the next four innings: the Saints wouldn't score against until the sixth.
By then, Saints manager George Tsamis had been tossed from the game after an argument over a fifth-inning base call and the Fish had taken the lead.
It started when the boys in red nipped back in the bottom of the first, with a Ramon single that scored Coles. One frame later, Goldeyes batters led a parade onto the bags, with Coles, Ramon and newcomer outfielder Ray Sadler all driving a runner home to tie the game at four. To lead off the third inning, Josh Mazzola sent a solo home run -- his fifth of the year -- flying over the left-field wall, and the Goldeyes squeaked ahead.
The Saints would try to claw their way back, but the Goldeyes exploded, running circles around the diamond to cash in six runs in the seventh, raising cheers from the crowd of 5,478.
By the by, it turns out a number of talents run in one Fish family: catcher Gabe Guida's sister Ashley Guida, visiting from Arizona, delivered the national anthems with a swelling operatic voice.
The Fish host Gary tonight at 6 p.m.