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This article was published 11/9/2017 (279 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
"One more left. Back-to-back. Let’s get it done!"
Winnipeg Goldeyes hitting coach Tom Vaeth greeted every single player with the same mantra as they filed into the clubhouse early Sunday evening. Translation: while the semifinal victory was sweet, there is still some business to be done.
As the players soaked each other with beer and took the celebration back on to the field, Lincoln general manager Charlie Meyer and skipper Bobby Brown came over to congratulate manager Rick Forney and his staff on the big win.
"Hats off to the Goldeyes. They’ve got a great lineup," Meyer said. "We had a great team this year too. It’s just one of those tough things. It’s baseball. I really hope for these guys they can finish it off and go back-to-back. That’s really difficult to do."
Indeed, only one team has done it in the 11-year history of the American Association.
That was the Fort Worth Cats back in 2006 and 2007.
Meyer got used to seeing dramatic walk-off wins as the Central Division champion Saltdogs managed nine of them this year during the regular season. But he said he’s never seen a ninth inning quite like the one at Shaw Park on Sunday.
"A lot of cardiac kids with these guys," Meyer said of his squad. "You look at both teams and the benches and the players. It was great resolve. It was a wild game, a great playoff game. Unfortunately, somebody has to lose and somebody has to win, and we were on the wrong side of it."
The Goldeyes have won three championships in their 24-year history: at the old Winnipeg Stadium back in 1994 and then on the road in Wichita in 2012 and 2016.
The trophy is guaranteed to be raised this year at Shaw Park as the final three games will be played in Winnipeg as a result of the Goldeyes clinching the best record in the league by virtue of their win on the final day of the regular season.
"Last year when we fortunate enough to win, I was saying to Sam (Katz, the owner), the only thing that would have made this better was for us to have a chance to win this at home," Forney said. "We got that opportunity. Hopefully we’re up for the task and give Winnipeg a special treat."
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.