Last fall, during the American Association championship series between the Winnipeg Goldeyes and Wichita Wingnuts, Amos Ramon was the hero so often, he was named playoff MVP.
Wednesday afternoon at Shaw Park, Ramon was a hero once again.
Ramon's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth scored Nick Liles with the winning run as the Goldeyes came back from a 3-0 first-inning deficit and beat the Wingnuts 4-3.
With the win, the Goldeyes improved to 14-12, stole the rubber-match of this three-game series with Wichita and won their first three-game set since taking two-of-three from Laredo back on May 27-29.
"It was a good win for us," said Goldeyes leadoff hitter Tyler Graham, during the post-game show on Safeway Goldeyes Baseball on Shaw TV. "We fell behind early, but we just kept chipping away and our pitching staff did a great job. We just kept grinding away and that's how you come back and win games like this."
The Goldeyes fell behind in the top of the first inning as Abel Nieves and John Rodriguez singled and then Cole Armstrong, who is from Surrey, B.C., hit a three-run homer off Goldeyes starter Mark Hardy, who is from Campbell River, B.C.
But Hardy settled down and the Goldeyes started to chip away at the lead.
In the bottom of the first, the Goldeyes scored a run without a hit. Leadoff man Tyler Graham struck out, but reached first on a passed ball. He stole second, went to third on an errant throw by catcher Armstrong and scored on a ground out by Ramon.
In the third, Graham and Ramon singled and on a double-steal they both moved up 90 feet. Graham scored on a ground out by Josh Mazzola.
In the sixth, the Goldeyes tied it. Mazzola was safe on an infield hit, stole second, went to third on a ground out by Leonard Davis and scored on a two-out single by Fehlandt Lentini.
Then, in the bottom of the ninth, the bottom of the order got the job done. With one out, No. 8 hitter Nick Liles singled, and then No. 9 hitter Nate Samson doubled to put runners at second and third. Graham walked and then Ramon hit his sacrifice fly to right to win it.
"Throughout the game, there was plenty of life on the bench," said hitting coach Tom Vaeth, who took over as manager after Rick Forney was ejected for arguing a close play at first in the top of the seventh inning. "We believed we could come back and win this one."
Forney became the third member of the Goldeyes to be ejected in the series – Vaeth was chucked in Game 1 and Mazzola was tossed in Game 2.
Meanwhile, Vaeth was pleased with Ramon's heroics and the bottom of his lineup.
"Anybody who knows me, knows that the guys who are struggling and working hard, the guys at the bottom of the order, are my guys," he said proudly. "I feel for them more than anybody else when they're struggling and I cheer for them hardest when things are going well. Today, they were the catalysts in this game.
"And Amos? What can you say? He had good swings for the whole series. You have to have patience in your guys and we have patience. We're not where we want to be yet, but we're getting there."
Closer Patrick Keating (2-0, 0.84 ERA) came on in the ninth and earned his second win of the series, while Wichita reliever Lincoln Holdzkom (1-2, 3.09 ERA) suffered his second loss of the series.
Goldeyes starter Mark Hardy pitched six strong innings, despite allowing three runs in the first. He pitched shutout baseball from the second through the sixth. Relievers Chris Kissock, Brendan Lafferty and Keating shut down the Wingnuts the rest of the way.
Three Goldeyes had multi-hit games: Graham went two-for-four with two runs scored; Mazzola went two-for-four with a run scored and an RBI; and Liles went two-for-four and scored the winning run.
The Fish will have Thursday off and then open a three-game weekend series with the Quebec Capitales on Friday night at Shaw Park.