I went up to Mickey Steen at the end of the game, put my hand on his shoulder and said: “I thought you were going to have a heart attack in the 9th inning.” As much as I was happy for the Winnipeg Goldeyes, I think I was just as happy for Mickey to get the chance to see his team win on home field. As Goldeyes skipper Rick Forney said last fall after winning the AA crown: “this is great, but it would be even better winning it on our home field.”
Goldeyes jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, but Lincoln didn’t want to see their season end as they scratched and clawed their way back against Goldeyes ace Kevin McGovern to a 4-4 tie. But again, the Goldeyes took the lead, Lincoln fought back and it all led to one of the most exciting 9th innings I’ve ever seen.
Fans were standing and cheering heading into the top of the 9th, as the Goldeyes held a 8-6 lead. Forney brought in his closer Ryan Chaffee to shut the door on the Saltdogs. But, Lincoln had other things in mind. A home run made it an 8-7 game; fans were up screaming as the Goldeyes got it to two outs…rhythmic clapping, and screaming, but an error by shortstop Andrew Sohn, who earlier in the game had made an unbelievable catch, led to Lincoln scoring two runs and taking a 9-8 lead heading into the bottom of the 9th. This elicited an “oh shit” from my baseball daughter Carly, much to the laughter of her two kids Laine and Ben!!
Bottom of the 9th and Sean Pleffner works a walk and the Goldeyes slugger David Bergen had a broken back single to leave runners on first and second. 3rd baseman Wes Darvill dropped a beautiful bunt, moving Pleffner and Bergen to 2nd and 3rd. Forney sent a pinch runner in for Bergen…and then Saltdogs manager Bobby Brown chose to intentionally walk Mason Katz to leave the bases loaded with just one out. Lincoln had their closer Michael Wagner on the mound, but he walked Andrew Sohn to tie the game…and then with the crowd on their feet, Casey Turgeon worked another walk and the Goldeyes rushed onto the field to celebrate!!
Gotta get a few words in for David Bergen, who in my eyes was definitely the Goldeyes player of the game. He crushed a home run to left field, which Goldeyes skipper called the longest home run he’s ever seen at Shaw Park and then came through in the clutch in the 9th with a big broken bat single. Bergen moved to Winnipeg to be with his fiance and has made Winnipeg his home. He said after the game “this is what I dreamed of when I came to the Goldeyes.”
This will be the third time in 6 years that the Goldeyes will be going to the championship series; they’ve won the last two times…but, this year could be very special. The last time they won a championship on their home field was in their inaugural season, 1994, at the old Winnipeg Stadium. I can only imagine how exciting it will be, if the Fish can beat the Wichita Wingnuts right here at Shaw Park. I wonder if Mickey’s old ticker will be able to handle the excitement!!
Games 1 and 2 of the American Association Championship Series goes Wednesday and Thursday in Wichita. Game 3 will be Saturday evening at 6:00, and if necessary, Game 4 will be Sunday afternoon and Game 5, Monday evening.
Get your tickets at the Goldeyes Box Office for what will be an exciting championship series!!