Knowing they will be playing for the league championship in a few days had everyone grinning in the Winnipeg Goldeyes clubhouse Sunday.
But none was wider than the one on reliever Chris Allen's face as he and his teammates were back together at Shaw Park for a workout after sweeping their best-of-five semifinal last Friday and then getting a day off on Saturday.
The Goldeyes won the series Friday with a 4-1 win over the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks at Shaw Park. They beat Fargo in Fargo 4-2 on Wednesday and 5-3 on Thursday.
Winnipeg will host the Wichita Wingnuts in the first two games of the best-of-five American Association championship series at Shaw Park on Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 p.m. The next three games are set for Wichita Sept. 14-16.
Last Friday, after Goldeyes starting pitcher Matt Rusch had allowed only one run in seven innings, Allen came into the game in the eighth and got two critical outs against a dangerous part of Fargo's batting order. Allen forced cleanup man Eric Campbell to fly out to right and struck out Ryan Delgado, who had hit a three-run home run in Game 2. The inning ended with lefty Zach Baldwin coming in to strike out Jon Gaston.
Allen, acquired with outfielder Mike Coles on Aug. 6 in the trade that sent Dexter Carter to the Gary SouthShore RailCats, said Goldeyes manager Rick Forney sent him into the game with instructions to "get two outs, I don't care how you do it."
"It's a great feeling to have been able to help out. Especially being a bullpen guy, you never know when your number is going to be called, and we usually do more cheering than actually playing," Allen said, grinning. "To get those two (outs) in a clutch situation really meant a lot to me and to this team. It feels like a real team effort when you get contributions from lots of different people."
Highlights of the three-game series for Winnipeg included Amos Ramon's two-run home run Wednesday, Josh Mazzola's pair of two-run homers and Yurendell de Caster's solo dinger Thursday, Kyle Day's game-tying RBI Friday after being hit by pitches in each of the first two games and reliever Brian Beuning getting three straight saves.
"Everybody can see guys like Mazzola hitting home runs, Chris Roberson making big plays in centre field (and) Luis (Alen) catching every single day. We need those guys doing what they do," said Goldeyes shortstop Price Kendall.
"But Chris Allen stepping up, Zach Baldwin coming in for one guy (third out in the eighth inning) and mowing him down, those things are big things for our team. That's how you win a championship, with everybody contributing what they can."
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