Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Mazzola's bomb boosts Fish

Winnipeg snaps skid with outburst vs. Lemurs

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LAREDO, Texas -- Winnipeg right-fielder Josh Mazzola cracked a two-run home run in the fifth inning and the Goldeyes followed up with seven runs in the ninth en route to an 11-3 victory over the Laredo Lemurs in American Association baseball action on Wednesday afternoon.

It was the third game of a three-game series with the Lemurs before 6,616 fans at Uni-Trade Stadium. The Goldeyes (4-2) suffered 5-1 and 3-1 losses to Laredo (4-3) to open this series on Monday and Tuesday.

"There's always a lot frustration involved when you're not hitting so well because you know what you can do. But you can't get too frustrated or it'll snowball on you," said Mazzola, who broke out of a 1-for-16 hitting slump with his two-run jack scoring Matt Cusick for a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning. "I'm just glad I was able to help the team out when we were down a couple runs."

The Goldeyes boarded their bus immediately after the game for the 10-hour trip to El Paso where this nine-game road trip concludes with a three-game set against the El Paso Diablos today (8 p.m., TSN 1290), Friday and Saturday.

The Goldeyes had been trailing 2-0 early after the Lemurs scored in the first and second innings.

In the top of the fifth, rookie outfielder Ridge Carpenter's sacrifice fly scored Luis Alen followed by Mazzola's two-run homer to go up by one run.

Laredo, which made three errors in the game, tied the score 3-3 on a seventh-inning RBI single by designated hitter John Allen.

Winnipeg shortstop Price Kendall scored what turned out to be the winning run in the eighth on a Yurendell de Caster sacrifice fly to put the Goldeyes in front 4-3 before the ninth-inning offensive explosion.

Cusick and Carpenter scored for the Goldeyes on a costly error to Lemurs shortstop Jimmy Mojica followed by a Goldeyes' hit-fest and runs scored by Kendall, Chris Roberson, Jon Weber, de Caster and Alen, all off Laredo closer Jon Hunton.

"It was just a good team win, everyone was using all their energy, it was so hot out but to kind of finally break through, it seemed like everyone just relaxed in that ninth inning and some balls started to drop," said Cusick, Winnipeg's second baseman who went 3-for-5 with a double, two RBI and two runs scored. "We needed that as a team to kind of get our confidence back. (A record of) 4-2 sounds a lot better than 3-3 so we can take this game and build on that ninth inning with some wins in El Paso."

Weber, leading the Goldeyes with a .429 batting average, and Kendall are both on six-game hitting streaks.

Hoping to avoid chilly weather in Winnipeg at this time of year, the Goldeyes more than got their wish by encountering extremely hot and dry conditions in Texas for the opening the of 2012 American Association season in Texas. The temperature spiked to 38 C midday during Wednesday's game.

"The heat's pretty rough out there, it's hard to even see sometimes. You can feel your eyes burning out there on the field, it's so hot on the dirt and the grass. The guys did a good job," said Goldeyes manager Rick Forney who juggled his batting order by switching Kendall from second into the leadoff spot followed by Roberson and inserting Mazzola in the ninth spot.

"Laredo played a little bit better than we did for two days," said Forney. "They pitched pretty good and they got some timely hits. I think they maybe had a dozen infield hits over the series and you can't always defend those."

Winnipeg pitcher Kaohi Downing, who relieved starter Chris Salamida after five innings, earned the win pitching two innings in which he allowed three hits and one run and struck out three. The losing pitcher was Lemurs reliever Leonard Giammanco who pitched 2 1/3 innings allowing two hits and one run and had one strikeout.

The Fish home opener is set for Tuesday when they take on Amarillo in the first game of a three-game series.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPAshleyPrest

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 24, 2012 C4

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