By Darrin Bauming (@DarrinBauming)
WINNIPEG — For a fifth time this year, the Winnipeg Goldeyes won the game on their final at-bat — an impressive stat considering it is only their ninth victory on the young season.
The Fish won 3-2 in extra innings on Tuesday afternoon to sweep their three-game series with the Amarillo Sox in front of 6,017 fans at Shaw Park.
Vancouver, British Columbia-native David Narodowski, in his first start at shortstop, doubled to the gap in left-centre with one out in the tenth, then took third and home on a pair of wild pitches to score the game-winning run.
“(Manager Rick Forney) came up to me this morning and said, ‘take advantage of this opportunity,’” said Narodowski.
The Goldeyes sent No. 3 rotational starter, and Winnipeg off-season resident, Matt Rusch to the hill. In six complete innings Rusch allowed no runs off six hits, tossed six strikeouts and walked none. Rusch also put on an impressive display of base runner control by picking off two Sox runners leading off from first, and nearly caught a third.
“We know this is an aggressive base running team,” said Rusch. “It’s something I like to pride myself on. A lot of people think pitching is just you and the batter… If they’re going to give you a free out, it’s nice to be able to get it.”
Winnipeg struck for single runs in the third and sixth. Third baseman Amos Ramon stole both second and home before the Sox could record the final out of the third. Yurendell de Caster’s sac-fly made it 2-0 Goldeyes through six.
“I felt good finally,” said the 28-year-old veteran Ramon of his plate appearances. “I’d been struggling a little bit. I’m from Winnipeg and want to do well here, and I just have to relax a little bit and just play the game.”
Ramon finished his day 3-for-4, and holds a climbing .275 batting average and 6 RBI in 40 at-bats this year.
With the youngest Goldeye, 21-year-old Barrett Phillips pitching in the seventh, Amarillo was finally able to muster a run as leadoff hitter Jason White singled home designated hitter Chuck Lofgren. Lofgren, the Sox No. 1 starter, was held hitless in two games as a batter in Winnipeg while taking a break from his regular pitching duties. He was the Sox starting (and losing) pitcher on Tuesday night.
Amarillo tied things up in the eighth as third baseman Van Pope went solo-yard on Winnipeg’s own hit-and-pitch dual threat — middle-reliever Kaohi Downing.
Winnipeg improves to 9-3 on the season to remain atop the American Association’s North Division, two games ahead of their perennial rivals — the St. Paul Saints.
The Goldeyes begin a three-game set in Winnipeg against the Gary SouthShore Railcats on Friday at 7 p.m.