By his own admission, Price Kendall had been struggling. But when he walked up to the plate with two out in the bottom of the seventh of the second game of last night’s doubleheader, he was determined not to let fireballer Griffin Bailey beat him.
Kendall saw a 90-mile-per-hour fastball from Bailey and drilled it into left field. As Kendall rounded first and teammate Alan Rick scored the winning run from third, the diminutive shortstop from Northern California knew his teammates would soon be rushing out onto the field to celebrate.
Kendall’s single gave the Goldeyes a thrilling a 3-2 victory in Game 2 of the twin bill and sent what was left of a crowd of 5,116 home happy. After losing Game 1, 5-3, the Fish got a split and are now 2-1 in the series and on the season.
“I’ve been struggling here in the early going, but when I went up to the plate, I made up my mind that I wasn’t going to get beat,” a smiling Kendall said in the Goldeyes clubhouse afterward.
“He threw me a fastball and I was locked in on that pitch. I knew he’d try to throw his best by me and I was not going to let that happen. It’s coming. I can feel it. The swing’s there. We just have to keep it going.”
It was Kendall’s first hit of the campaign (it was his ninth at bat) and it could not have come at a better time.
Meanwhile, Goldeyes starter Andrew (Ace) Walker had “pretty good stuff,” last night, but when it was over, he credited his defence with helping him keep the Goldeyes in the ball game.
“My fastball was pretty good tonight,” said Walker, a four-year Goldeyes veteran pitched six solid innings in Game 2, but left the game with Winnipeg trailing 2-1 and didn’t get the win.
“When I gave up two runs in the fourth, I just wanted to make sure I didn’t let it get out of hand. I just wanted to make sure I gave us a chance to win. But if it wasn’t for a great catch in left field by (Justin) Bass and the leaping catch at second by (Wilmer) Pino, things might have been different.”
After Walker left the game, Ian Thomas came in in the top of the seventh and shut down the RedHawks. Thomas (1-0, 0.00 ERA) got the win.
Both Fargo runs off Walker came across in the top of the fourth as leadoff man Casey Hoorelbeke doubled and scored on a single by Jim Fasano. Carlo Cota then singled and Jason James grounded out on a fielder’s choice that scored Fasano. The Goldeyes scored in the bottom of the fourth as Wilmer Pino singled and after Kody Kaiser was safe on an error, Pino scored on a base hit by Brian Myrow.
Then, in the seventh, the Fish rallied. Victor Ferrante led off with a solid double to left, was held at second when Luis Alen grounded out, but went to third when Alan Rick singled. Ferrante scored on a solid base hit off the bat of Bass, but Bass was thrown out at second trying to stretch the single into a double. That brought Kendall to the plate with two out and Rick standing at third.
And Kendall did not disappoint.
Bailey took the loss (0-1, 13.50 ERA) while Thomas earned the victory. With the walk-off single, there was no save.
In Game 1, the RedHawks wrapped things up quickly, with four runs in the first.
With one out, Zach Penprase tripled, Nic Jackson walked and Jesse Hoorelbeke singled home Penprase. Fasano was safe on a fielder’s choice, putting runners on the corners with two out, when Cota had an infield single that scored Jackson to make it 2-0. Then, James hit a ground ball to Luis Alen at first, Alen flipped to Glant covering and the inning was over.
Or was it? Inexplicably, first base umpire Ron Shewchuk called James safe, saying that Glant was pulled off the bag. The “error” rattled Glant who gave up a solid single to Fargo catcher Phil Britton that plated two more runs and by the time Justin Bass made a spectacular catch off a line drive from the bat of Brian Ruggiano to end the inning, the RedHawks had scored four runs and the game was all but in the books.
The RedHawks put up another run in the top of the third, but Jonathan Wyatt of the Goldeyes answered with a solo homer in the bottom of the third to make it 5-1. Justin Bass hit a two-run bomb in the bottom of the seventh to cut the Fargo lead to 5-3, but that’s all the home side could muster.
Jake Laber (1-0, 1.59 ERA)was the winning pitcher for Fargo while Dustin Glant (0-1, 9.00) suffered the loss. Bailey got credit for the save.
The season-opening, four-game series ends today at 1:30 p.m. Lefty Chris Salamida will get the start for Winnipeg, while right-hander Zach Ward will take the mound for Fargo.