GRAND PRAIRIE, TX – The Winnipeg Goldeyes (3-1) suffered their first loss of the season Sunday afternoon, falling 6-4 to the Texas Airhogs.
After the Goldeyes tied the game at four in the top of the seventh inning, the Airhogs answered in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases before Stewart Ijames hit a sacrifice fly that brought home Liu Guoqing with the eventual game-winning run to put the Airhogs up 5-4. Texas would add an insurance marker in their next at bat and hand the Goldeyes their first loss of the 2019 campaign with a 6-4 win.
The Goldeyes found themselves playing catch up for most of the afternoon, finding a way to tie the game twice after falling behind, but in the end the third lead was the charm for Texas as they held on for the win.
The pitching matchup saw a pair of right-handers going head-to-head with Parker French getting the call for Winnipeg and Kevin Hilton taking the mound for Texas. Hilton missed all of last season and was starting his first game since August 31, 2017, and didn’t look rusty at all, sitting the Goldeyes down in order in the top of the first.
In the bottom of the first, French -- the former Texas Longhorn and Texas native, walked Josh Prince to lead off the game. Prince eventually made his way to third by stealing second and advancing to third on a wild pitch before Ijames hit the Airhogs first home run of the season, ripping a two-run shot over the fence in right field to give Texas an early 2-0 lead.
There would be no more scoring until the top half of the sixth when Wes Darvill mirrored what Josh Prince did in the first inning, forcing a walk then stealing second before advancing to third on a single from Reggie Abercrombie. With Josh Romanski at the plate, Hilton attempted to pick off Abercrombie at first, but his throw ended up in the Airhogs dugout, sending Darvill home and moving Abercrombie to second. Hilton struck out Romanski before giving way for Tyler Wright, who came in to face James Harris who hit two-out double to left field that scored Abercrombie, and tied the game at two.
Texas (1-3) answered with a pair of their own in the bottom of the sixth. French gave up a lead-off single to Ijames and forced a pop up to Chen Junpeng before being replaced by Jack Charleston who gave up a single to Luo Jinjun, advancing Ijames to third. Jinjun attempted to steal second and the throw from Kevin Garcia got away from Perez and ended up in centerfield, scoring Ijames. Jinjun would score on an infield single from Han Xiao, doubling the lead to 4-2.
The Goldeyes once again clawed their way back, scoring twice in the top of the seventh. After Garcia opened with a walk, Kevin Lachance smacked a double down the left side moving Garcia to third. Adrian Marin hit into a groundout but scored Garcia to cut the lead to 4-3. Dominic Ficociello was up next and missed a home run by just a few feet, hammering a shot off the bottom of the wall in deep right centre to bring home Lachance and things were tied once again.
Texas was not ready to be swept to start the season, answering Winnipeg with two runs in the bottom of the seventh and defeat the Goldeyes 6-4.
Winnipeg will take their 3-1 record down the road to Cleburne where they begin a three-game set against the Railroaders beginning Monday night at the Depot at Cleburne Station. All the action can be heard locally on 93.7 FM CJNU and worldwide at www.cjnu.ca
The Goldeyes’ 2019 home opener is scheduled for Friday, May 24th versus the Kansas City T-Bones. 2019 season tickets, 10-game mini packs, and group tickets 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
BILL BURFOOT, WINNIPEG GOLDEYES