September 21, 2017

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Goldeyes lead best-of-five semi final series against Saltdogs with 6-2 win

MIKE SUDOMA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Goldeyes' David Rohm hits one into the outfield resulting in Andrew Sohn and Wes Darvil crossing home plate.</p>

MIKE SUDOMA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Goldeyes' David Rohm hits one into the outfield resulting in Andrew Sohn and Wes Darvil crossing home plate.

The Winnipeg Goldeyes were looking for any kind of spark to ignite their offence as they faced Lincoln in a pivotal game of a deadlocked playoff series.

It took just one batter Saturday night at Shaw Park — striking out, no less — to do that. Casey Turgeon led off the first inning by whiffing, yet scampered down to first base when the Saltdogs catcher was unable to corral strike three.

A lucky break, for sure. And one the Goldeyes took full advantage of as they quickly put up three runs in the frame on their way to a 6-2 victory. Winnipeg, the North division winners, lead the best-of-five semi-final series two games to one and can earn a trip to the American Association championship series with a victory on Sunday afternoon. Lincoln, the Central division winners, need a win to stay alive and force a winner-take-all Game 5 which would go Monday evening.

"He got on base. I don't care how you get on base. That happens sometimes in this game. It got us going," said manager Rick Forney of how Turgeon turned a negative into a positive.

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The Winnipeg Goldeyes were looking for any kind of spark to ignite their offence as they faced Lincoln in a pivotal game of a deadlocked playoff series.

It took just one batter Saturday night at Shaw Park — striking out, no less — to do that. Casey Turgeon led off the first inning by whiffing, yet scampered down to first base when the Saltdogs catcher was unable to corral strike three.

MIKE SUDOMA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS </p><p>Charlie Rosario went seven innings strong which led to the Goldeyes victory over the Lincoln Saltdogs.</p>

MIKE SUDOMA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Charlie Rosario went seven innings strong which led to the Goldeyes victory over the Lincoln Saltdogs.

A lucky break, for sure. And one the Goldeyes took full advantage of as they quickly put up three runs in the frame on their way to a 6-2 victory. Winnipeg, the North division winners, lead the best-of-five semi-final series two games to one and can earn a trip to the American Association championship series with a victory on Sunday afternoon. Lincoln, the Central division winners, need a win to stay alive and force a winner-take-all Game 5 which would go Monday evening.

"He got on base. I don't care how you get on base. That happens sometimes in this game. It got us going," said manager Rick Forney of how Turgeon turned a negative into a positive.

After David Rohm followed with a walk, outfielder Josh Romanski ripped a single to bring Turgeon home and give the Goldeyes an early lead. Reggie Abercrombie dribbled a weak grounder which moved Rohm and Romanski over, and that proved to be big as Shawn Pleffner hit a sacrifice fly to left that scored Rohm.

David Bergin kept things going with a walk, and Wes Darvill doubled to score Romanski. Lincoln starter Bennett Parry, who led the American Association in the regular-season with a 1.93 ERA, needed 40 pitches just to get out of the first inning.

Saturday's hot start was exactly what Winnipeg needed after being blasted 13-0 and held to just four harmless hits in Thursday's Game 2 loss in Nebraska, which came on the heels of their come-from-behind 5-4 win in Game 1 on Wednesday.

Goldeyes pitcher Charle Rosario didn't give up a hit until a leadoff single in the fourth. It was quickly erased when the next batter hit into a double play.

Winnipeg broke it open in the fifth. Turgeon made it 4-0 by showing great patience at the plate and drawing a two-out, bases-loaded walk. Then Rohm came through with a clutch single that scored two more and made it 6-0.

Lincoln finally got to Rosario in the sixth as Joe Robbins hit a ground-rule double and Cesar Valera followed up with a home run to left field. But the Goldeyes starter went seven strong innings, giving up just the two runs off four hits. He walked two batters and struck out 10, just two short of matching the Goldeyes all-time single game playoff record of 12.

Rosario said he didn't get caught up in the importance of the swing game in a tied series or put any additional pressure on himself.

"It's just another start. It's the same game," said the calm, cool and collected Rosario. He said having your teammates put up three runs in the first inning certainly helped him feel "more comfortable" on the mound.

Relievers Victor Capellan and Ryan Chaffee got it done the rest of the way.

Another key contributor Saturday was Rohm, After going hitless through the first two games of the series, Rohm was on base five times with four singles and a walk, had two RBI and scored a run.

"He looked like the David Rohm of last year. He had a hell of a game. Some really good at-bats," Forney said of his outfielder, who played a big part of the 2016 championship won by the Goldeyes.

Rohm said he believes patience at the plate was key.

"We had a plan early to make that guy throw a lot of pitches, get on the plate and take away his little nibble on the corners," said Rohm. "We took our walks and made him throw pitches over the plate that we were successful on."

One thing the Goldeyes likely won't do is get ahead of themselves. They know teams can certainly turn a series deficit on the road into a victory by rattling off two straight wins — considering that's exactly what Winnipeg did last season in both playoff wins over St. Paul and Wichita.

"All the returners know we've got to keep our intensity up, make sure we put that team away," said Rohm. "We want to make sure we put them away and not let them get to that Game 5 where they have a little confidence and can come back and beat us."

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Mike McIntyre.

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