Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Kendall takes over contest

Hurting second baseman hits winner for Goldeyes

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Maybe it was his old-school knee socks or just Price Kendall's indomitable drive to keep playing and win, no matter what his aching leg may say.

Kendall drove in the game-winning run on a suicide squeeze, scoring Amos Ramon with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, to lift Winnipeg (38-27) to a 2-1 victory over the Sioux Falls Pheasants (29-36) Friday night at Shaw Park before a crowd of 5,325.

Kendall has been leading the team in leg ailments since the season-opening road trip, when he first hurt his right ankle.

He has incurred several other problems with the leg.

"I know myself, personally, I come out here ready to play 120 games every year whether I'm hurt or not. That's what I come here to do, and I know everybody on this team comes with that mindset," said Kendall, who wore the high socks for a third straight game as the Goldeyes ended a five-game losing skid at home.

"It's up to each individual to just dig deep down inside and continue to play as hard as we can."

The Goldeyes and Pheasants will meet again today at 6 p.m. for the second of a three-game set.

The Goldeyes trail the first-place Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks by four games in the American Association North Division with 35 games left to play.

"Our team is still competing. We're 10 games over .500, and I think we're the wild-card leader. I think we've been on character-building mode for a while," said Goldeyes manager Rick Forney, referring to the fourth and final American Association playoff berth, which goes to the best team not to win its division.

"We've been so short-handed in guys trying to play through some stuff (injuries), the last five weeks are getting pretty important. The personnel is fine; that's not an issue. It's just a matter of when we're going to get healthy."

Hard times have beset the Goldeyes, who were first in the North Division for 53 straight days to start the season. The red-hot RedHawks went on a 14-game winning streak earlier this month, starting with three straight wins over the Goldeyes. Winnipeg has seven of its nine position players playing injured and hasn't been able to get a streak going.

"It's an excuse, but it's not. It's no different than anyone who's got bills to pay and has to go to work when you're sick," said Kendall, who is hitting .283. Five of those injured Goldeyes are hitting .300 or better -- Chris Roberson, Jon Weber, Yurendell de Caster, Luis Alen and Kyle Day. In the past 22 games, Winnipeg is 11-11 and Fargo is 20-2.

"There's peaks and valleys in every season and we're in a valley right now," Kendall said.

"This is a real true test of character, even more so than what we had earlier in the season. When we've been winning and got in a rhythm, we saw that we've got something special here.

"Now that we're in this valley, we know what we're capable of, so things seem a lot worse than they really are. We just have to stay together as a team, stay positive and we'll be back."

In Friday's game, Kyle Day played catcher for the first time since giving a rest to Alen, who was behind the plate in 60 of 64 previous games, but took that rest playing first base.

Both teams scored a run in the second inning, with Sioux Falls' designated hitter Cristian Guerrero scoring on a single by catcher Al Quintana. Winnipeg replied with right-fielder Josh Mazzola's ground-out, scoring Alen.

DIAMOND DUST: The winning pitcher was Goldeyes' reliever Brian Beuning, whose ERA dropped to 0.68 after he played three innings allowing no hits and striking out two... The Goldeyes are 8-2 in the first game of a series at home.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPAshleyPrest

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 28, 2012 C8

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