Goldeyes Begin Defence of Championship with Victory
Thursday, May 18th, 2017 CLEBURNE, TX - The Winnipeg Goldeyes (1-0) opened the 2017 season with a 5-3 win over the expansion Cleburne Railroaders at The Depot at Cleburne Station on Thursday night.
The contest was the first to be played at the Railroaders' (0-1) new facility.
Tied at 2-2 in the top of the seventh inning, Josh Romanski smacked a two-out, three-run home run to left field against Railroaders' left-hander Onas Farfan. The game-changing rally started when Wes Darvill singled up the middle with one out. Darvill took second on a groundout from Casio Grider before David Rohm worked a four-pitch walk to set up Romanski.
"It was a big hit for us at the right time," said Goldeyes' hitting coach Tom Vaeth. "We did a good job of getting some runners on in that inning so we could get to that point. It started with Wes' clean base hit up the middle, and flipping the lineup over."
After Victor Capellan struck out two during a perfect bottom of the seventh, the Railroaders scratched out a run in the eighth on a Mitch Glasser fielder's choice. Mitchell Lambson then struck out Nick Van Stratten as the tying run at the plate to preserve Winnipeg's 5-3 lead.
In the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Chaffee pitched a scoreless frame to earn his first save of the year. Chaffee turned 29 on Thursday.
Mikey O'Brien (1-0) started and earned the win for the Goldeyes. O'Brien allowed two earned runs on just one hit over six innings. O'Brien walked two, struck out four, and became just the third pitcher in franchise history to make multiple starts on Opening Night.
"Mikey gave us a good start," said Vaeth. "To get on the board early, and to come back late and score some big runs is just a great way to start. Mikey settled down and minimized (in the fourth). He kept us close, and gave us a chance to come back later in the game."
The Goldeyes struck first in the top of the fourth. Romanski doubled into the right field corner leading off, took third on a David Bergin groundout, and scored the game's first run when Reggie Abercrombie lined a single to centre field.
Cleburne answered back in the bottom of the frame. Back-to-back walks to Maikol Gonzalez and Glasser set up an RBI groundout from Van Stratten and an RBI single to left-centre from Geraldo Valentin. Valentin's hit was the first in Railroaders' history. O'Brien escaped further trouble in the fourth, stranding runners on second and third, and went on to retire the final eight batters to face him.
In the top of the sixth, Abercrombie singled to centre, stole second base, and scored the tying run when Shawn Pleffner singled through the Railroaders' defensive shift on a sharp groundball to centre.
Jorge Martinez started for Cleburne and took a no-decision, allowing one earned run on four hits in five innings. Martinez walked one and struck out four.
Farfan (0-1) took the loss, allowing four earned runs over one and two-thirds.
Abercrombie robbed Van Stratten in the bottom of the first with a sliding catch on a line drive to shallow centre. Andrew Sohn made a key diving stop on Glasser's eighth inning fielder's choice to prevent a base hit.
"A lot of people played well defensively," said Vaeth. "It kind of carried over from the exhibition season. Thats what you need. Pitching, defence, and timely hitting. We were able to come up big in all three phases tonight."
Notes: Romanski hit .356 against left-handed pitching last season, which was the best in the American Association among left-handed batters...Van Stratten entered 2017 with the second highest batting average in American Assocaition history at .355 (minimum 1,000 plate appearances)...the Goldeyes are now 15-9 on Opening Night, and evened their record to 7-7 when beginning the season on the road...the game was played in front of 4,375 fans...The Depot at Cleburne Station has a listed capacity of 4,200
The Goldeyes and Railroaders play game two of their four-game series on Friday at 7:06 p.m. Left-hander Kevin McGovern (0-0, 0.00) takes on right-hander Brandon Quintero (0-0, 0.00). All the action can be heard locally on 93.7 FM CJNU and worldwide at www.cjnu.ca
The Goldeyes' 2017 home opener is Monday, May 29th versus the Sioux Falls Canaries at Shaw Park. Season tickets, 10-game mini packs, and group outings for the 2017 season are on sale now. For more information, call the Goldeyes' office at (204) 982-BASE, or visit the Goldeyes' official website at www.goldeyes.com
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