When relief pitcher Brian Beuning steps on the mound for the Winnipeg Goldeyes, it's obvious his teammates believe a win is coming.
And why not? In the 17 games the steely-nerved Minnesota State Patrol Trooper has appeared in, the Goldeyes have won 11 times.
Beuning, a former Goldeyes player who is back playing while on parental leave with the birth of his son, has a stellar earned run average of 0.92 and is Winnipeg's most productive reliever.
In Saturday's 3-1 win over the Wichita Wingnuts at Shaw Park, Beuning pitched 2 2/3 hitless, scoreless innings for the save and struck out five of the 10 batters he faced.
"It's getting to the point when we see Beuning come into the game, we've got a lot of confidence with him on the mound," said Goldeyes third baseman Amos Ramon. "He's going to get some ground balls, he's going to get some strikeouts. He's the type of pitcher that's going to have people roll over. We've just got to play defence and he'll set the tempo for us."
Beuning at first was playing whenever he had time off from his career as a law enforcement officer. But now that he is on leave since he and his wife Ginger welcomed son Max on July 30, he will be with the Goldeyes for the rest of the American Association season and through the playoffs.
Last with the Goldeyes in 2007-08, Beuning is having the time of his life.
"I think I'm playing smarter. I can't say it's pitch selection, because that's all Luis (catcher Alen). I will not shake him off. If I am shaking, he's telling me to shake," Beuning, 31, said with a grin. "Smarter, maybe, in quality of pitches and knowing that every pitch you throw is a very important pitch. I love being out there. I'll throw every day if Rick wants me to. Give me the ball!
"I want people to have confidence in me, it's fun that way too. Everyone has your back. You get confidence, you can go a long ways, and this team will. This is a great team."
Goldeyes manager Rick Forney said, "Beuning's our best guy with the game on the line in the seventh, eighth and ninth inning."
"Brian's been like that before he was a state trooper, there's no fear in that guy's mind. He's not afraid to pitch with the game on the line. He's not afraid to be the guy that's out there, win or lose," Forney said. "He wants to pitch. For crying out loud, that guy threw three innings (on Saturday), had just one day off and got eight outs for us. That says a lot about him."
The Goldeyes (47-32) open a four-game series today in Fargo against the North Division-leading RedHawks (52-27). Fargo is 8-2 in its last 10 games and the Goldeyes are 7-3, so the head-to-head series will be pivotal in the race for the North Division pennant.
With 21 games left in the regular season, the Goldeyes have a five-game lead for the league's wild-card playoff berth over the Kansas City T-Bones.
"I would like to think we're a playoff team, our winning percentage (.595) is probably the second-best in the league next to Fargo (.658)," Forney said. "We're probably one of the four best teams in this league and very deserving of a playoff spot, but we've got to earn it ourselves and we've got a lot of baseball games left to play. If we want to truly make a run at our division title, these four games in Fargo are really important.
DIAMOND DUST: The Goldeyes put right-handed pitcher Griffin Bailey on waivers on Sunday after claiming left-handed pitcher Daniel Morari on Saturday off waivers from Fargo.
email@example.com Twitter: @WFPAshleyPrest