There are some golden days at the ballpark and Josh Mazzola had one on Sunday afternoon at Shaw Park.
The Winnipeg Goldeyes right-fielder hit a pair of home runs -- a two-out, three-run bomb in the first inning and a two-run shot in the fifth -- to boost the Goldeyes (39-28) to a 7-3 victory over the Sioux Falls Pheasants (30-37). Centre-fielder Chris Roberson hit a solo homer in the fourth inning as he and Mazzola are now tied for the team lead with 10 home runs each.
A crowd of 5,543, sweltering in 33 C heat, saw Mazzola hit two bombs in a single game for the second time this season and the first time at home. Starting pitcher Todd Privett (5-4) got the win for Winnipeg. The Goldeyes now embark on a six-game road trip, which begins Tuesday in Kansas City against the T-Bones.
"Days you hit the ball well is always a good day and it was a plus I was able to drive in some runs," said Mazzola, who also hit a double and had five RBI. "Going on the road tomorrow, it definitely builds momentum. It's big for us going on the road taking this series and that momentum. One big word I heard today was 'compete' and we definitely did that."
Sioux Falls scored a pair of runs in the top of the first inning but Winnipeg responded in the bottom of the frame with catcher Luis Alen's RBI single and Mazzola's three-run dinger.
In the third, the Pheasants scored their third run on an error by Winnipeg shortstop Jose Duran, leaving Winnipeg clinging to a 4-3 lead. Roberson's homer and Mazzola's two-run shot gave the Goldeyes the game.
Goldeyes manager Rick Forney noted Sunday's win gave his team its third series win in the past four.
"It started out terrible today, we misplayed some balls in the first and second inning and penalized Todd (Privett), who was excellent today. We got some timely hits, Mazzola had a hell of a day," Forney said.
A big difference for Winnipeg from Saturday's 15-9 loss was pitching. Privett worked 6.2 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and struck out five batters. Brian Beuning came in for relief and tossed the remaining 2.1 innings allowing one hit, a walk and striking out two.
"We need good starting pitching in this league and that's kind of the key to success and getting some consistency," Forney said. "You don't need seven, eight, nine innings out of these guys. You need six good innings, support him with some offence and some defence and that guy that gives you six is going to creep into that seventh and eighth inning and the game becomes a little bit simpler."
The Goldeyes trail the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks (44-23) by five games in the North Division as Fargo has won seven straight games, including Sunday's 14-3 blowout of Gary. Winnipeg holds the wild-card berth with a narrow 2.5-game lead on the Kansas City T-Bones and the St. Paul Saints.
"The next few series are pretty big, we have KC and we have Fargo twice to end out the year," Mazzola said. "Those are all big games if we're going to win the North and say that doesn't happen, we need to distance ourselves (from Kansas City) for the wild card. Our goal is to win the North."
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @WFPAshleyPrest