Goldeyes sneak past Cougars
Williams’ heroics pace Fish to extra-inning victory
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The clock struck 9:30 p.m. as Javeyan Williams — who had brought the crowd to its collective feet on two occasions earlier in the evening — slid across home plate while those in attendance at Shaw Park erupted in celebration for the second night in row.
It was a wild pitch in the 10th inning that scored the Winnipeg Goldeyes outfielder to give the club a 5-4 victory over the Kane County Cougars and stamp its second consecutive series victory on the young 2023 campaign in front of 2,063 fans at the downtown park.
The Fish improved to 6-5 in their 30th-anniversary season while the Cougars suffered their seventh-straight defeat to drop to 2-9.
It’s the second night in a row the Goldeyes beat the Cougars in extra innings after a 3-2 triumph Tuesday.
The club is above .500 for the first time since its 1-0 start to the year after breezing past Gary SouthShore 6-1. Indeed, the Fish suddenly have something cooking, going 5-2 in their last seven contests after a 1-3 start that saw the team concede 20 runs.
The home park has been kind to the club during its first homestand of the year, with the Fish going 4-1. It’s more of the same they enjoyed in 2022, when they went 29-21 at Shaw Park
“I’m still finding out about what we’re capable of doing,” said first-year manager Greg Tagert. “But I’ll tell you what, I saw a ball club today with Javeyan Williams — it just goes to show you what you can do without hitting the ball out of the park. (Williams) won the game with two plays in the outfield that were just amazing. If there’s a better play in baseball tonight, you’d be hard pressed to find it.
“We’ve seen so many good things. We’re not perfect. We’ve got some work to do, we have some hiccups occasionally each night and that’s all part of it.”
Williams, who also registered a hit on the night, made two highlight reel plays in left field that kept the Fish within striking distance. The first came in the fourth inning on a diving play by the 25-year-old that saw him make a full extension for the out. That preceded his leaping grab over the wall in foul territory in the fifth inning.
What started as a shaky start on the mound wound up being a game-saving effort by the Goldeyes’ bullpen.
One start after he scorched opposing batters with five strong innings en route to a win in the Goldeyes’ home opener, Travis Seabrooke had a tougher outing. The third-year Goldeyes hurler struggled with his command through four innings of work that saw him concede four earned runs on four hits and five walks. Seabrooke finished the day with three wild pitches, two of which allowed the Cougars to jog in a pair of runs in the third inning.
Josh Vincent hurled well in relief, allowing one batter to reach base and striking out two in three innings to give the Goldeyes’ offence a chance to claw their way back into the contest.
That they did, sparked by leadoff hitter Dayson Croes, who continued his strong start to the season.
After Croes opened the contest with a walk, a passed ball by Daniel Wasinger jogged him in to open the scoring for the hosts.
Croes, who added a hit, a stolen base and another walk to his night, drove in a crucial run in the fifth inning on a sac fly that cut the Cougars’ lead in half.
“It feels good (to get hot),” Croes said. “We knew that road trip was gonna take time for everyone to start rolling. It’s a long season, I’m just happy we kept fighting in both these games and came back from behind both times.
“It’s been amazing playing in front of the Winnipeg fans. It was hyped up before I got here, everybody has been like, ‘Wait until we get home,’ and I say it’s been over the hype. It’s been amazing, I’m just blessed to play in front of these guys.”
Jacob Bockelie, who served as the club’s designated hitter on this night, knotted the contest at 4-4 after lining a shot that cut through the breezy Winnipeg air, deep to centre field where it narrowly beat the outstretched glove of the Cougars outfielder to drive in Andy Armstrong and Max Murphy.
The Goldeyes will close their three-game series against the Cougars today in an 11 a.m. matinée at Shaw Park before wrapping up their homestand against Sioux Falls this weekend.
Joshua Frey-Sam happily welcomes a spirited sports debate any day of the week.
Updated on Thursday, May 25, 2023 8:30 AM CDT: Corrects time of game at Shaw Parkl