Goldeyes triumph in thriller
Walk-off grand slam vaults Fish past Explorers
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/08/2021 (674 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeg Goldeyes fans hungry for more baseball action at Shaw Park witnessed a rainy, valiant effort from the hometown club as they faced the Sioux City Explorers in the second of their three-game opening homestand. The Fish stayed patient in the latter stages of the game and earned a stunning victory in the bottom of the ninth with a walk-off grand slam by Dakota Conners to post an 11-7 win.
After some afternoon showers, the air at the stadium felt cooler than during the Goldeyes’ Tuesday home opener when they defeated the Iowa club 14-6.
Goldeyes starting pitcher Dylan Burns got off to a shaky start. A double by Explorers’ Dustyn Macaluso put runners on second and third and Michael Lang scored the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Dodson. Macaluso stole third and scored and the Goldeyes found themselves down 3-0.
Explorers’ starter Marc-Andre Habeck had a pocketful of fans on his side as Winnipeg product made his debut against the Goldeyes. Habeck did a good job during the Goldeyes first stint at bat, shutting down Tyler Hill, Wes Darvill and Kyle Martin.
The Fish were able to contain the Explorers in the second thanks to the work of shortstop Darvill and first baseman Martin. The tandem robbed the Explorers of two hits.
Both shared how important this homestand will be to the rest of their season.
“It’s good that we get a lot of games at home and I think it’s going to help us make a big push,” said Martin.
“Obviously trying to win a playoff spot is what we’re looking to do and I think we can rally together to make it happen with everything that is happening right now by being home and having most of our games here.”
“Really every game now in this last little stretch is important,” said Darvill.
“Whether it be Sioux City, Milwaukee or Gary, to have our home base now and feel the energy in the clubhouse — the morale is immediately boosted. Everyone seems like there a little more upbeat. It’s really special and I’m happy to be a part of this right now.”
Martin who has 22 home runs and 78 RBI and is averaging .294, hit a three-run home run on Tuesday. He was with the Goldeyes in 2019 and says his team looked to feed off of Tuesday’s victory and an electric Winnipeg crowd.
“Getting the jitters out at first, I can’t lie I was very nervous my first time at bat,” said Martin.
“We were all a bit taken aback from it (fan reaction), just for that to happen it was very exciting. It’s incredible, we missed this place for two years now.”
Darvill, the fifth-year veteran with the Fish is ecstatic to be back home in a city that has treated him very well.
“This is one of the best places in North America to play, with the fan base, how the staff treats you, the facilities, being in downtown Winnipeg with the culture,” said Darvill.
Going into Wednesday’s matchup Darvill emphasized to the Goldeyes’ new core of players what it means to play with a purpose.
“For me, these guys need to go out and compete, and really it’s the purest form of baseball there is, right, because there’s prospects getting in the way,” said Darvill.
Macaluso nailed a solo homer to left to put his club up 4-0 in the third inning.
The Explorers’ pitching was solid through the first five innings. Habeck, the crowd favourite, was lifted in the bottom of the fifth having surrendered six hits and no runs. His replacement, Ken Williams would face a great test after deciding to intentionally walk Martin, Raul Navarro and Kevin LaChance in the bottom of the sixth. Scattered rain showers that lasted for 20 minutes, seemed to bring a change in favour for the Fish.
The Goldeyes, trailing 5-0, needed to find the offensive spark that worked wonders Tuesday night. With the bases loaded, catcher Deon Stafford singled home Martin. Second baseman Dakota Conners rapped a double scoring Navarro and LaChance and Stafford scored thanks to a sacrifice fly by Tyler Hill. Darvill then brought Conners home with a double.
Tied 5-5 in the seventh the pressure mounted for Goldeyes reliever Christian James, who stepped in for Burns. Danny Taggart took the hill for the for the Explorers and James would be replaced by Travis Seabrooke as a pitching duel ensued in the latter innings.
Michael Lang, who was the best player offensively for the Explorers, scored on a single by Dodson in the top of the eighth. A double by Jacob Bockelie brought Dodson home and Seabrooke was quickly replaced by Nate Antone.
Antone gave the Fish a chance to stay in the game, blanking the Explorers in the eighth and ninth innings and Winnipeg created some last-minute suspense as Martin, Navarro and LaChance were walked by Keaton Sullivan. Sullivan walked DH Logan Hill to make it 7-6. Sullivan followed up with a wild pitch, allowing Navarro to tie the game at 7-7. The action was not over.
With the bases still loaded, Conners hit a grand slam to left field to cap a stunning series of events. Conners was clearly the Goldeyes player of the game and a lot of credit can be given to the Fish for hanging in until the end for the thrilling 11-7 victory. The Goldeyes improved to 34-35 on the season.
Wednesday night’s attendance was 1,372 roughly half of Tuesday’s home opener. The Goldeyes will look to sweep the series in today’s matchup, which starts at noon.