The Winnipeg Goldeyes have now won 1,000 games.
A soft broken-bat ground ball off the bat of Nick Liles scored Fehlandt Lentini from third base and gave the Winnipeg Goldeyes a come from behind 4-3 victory over the Quebec Capitales.
"Thanks for reminding me, I'd forgotten about it (1,000 wins) already," said Goldeyes manager Rick Forney shortly after Sundays' game ended. "Congratulations has to go to Hal Lanier who contributed so much to this organization and brought us so many of those wins and to Doug Simunic who was here for the first two years and helped introduce independent professional baseball to Winnipeg. It was nice to get the win at home."
With the victory, the Goldeyes improved to 16-13 and won four of six games on the homestand. They also won back-to-back series for the first time since the opening road trip in mid-May. Regardless of what happens later in the day, the Goldeyes continue to hold onto at least a piece of first place in the American Association's North Division.
It was a sensational bottom of the ninth for the Goldeyes. With one out and the Fish trailing 3-2, Leonard Davis had a terrific at-bat and got a 3-2 fastball from Quebec closer Chris Cox that he drilled into the right-centre field gap for a double. Right behind him came Fehlandt Lentini, who banged a single up the middle to score Davis and suddenly the Goldeyes were deadlocked at 3-3.
Luis Alen came in to pinch hit for Nate Samson, but on a throw over to first designed to keep Lentini honest, Rene Leveret mishandled the throw and Lentini hustled into second. Cox walked Alen intentionally and that brought up Nick Liles. On the second pitch to Liles, Lentini stole third and that set up Liles unintentional heroics.
With the count 2-2, Liles hit a high, broken-bat chopper to third baseman Jonathan Malo, who inexplicably was playing deep at third. Malo tried to throw out Lentini at home, but it wasn't even close. Liles had the game-winning RBI and the Goldeyes had a huge come from behind victory.
"That was Leonard's best at-bat in quite some time," Forney said. "It's why you play all nine innings. He got behind 1-2 and didn't give up. He kept fouling them off, worked the count and got a pitch he could drive. That at-bat put some energy back in the team. It was huge for us."
Another thing that was huge for the Goldeyes was starter Matt Rusch's performance.
Quebec took an early 3-0 lead. They scored a run in the first off an RBI single from Sebastien Boucher and then added two in the second as Malo and Leveret each drove in runs, but the Goldeyes got two in the bottom of the third as Amos Ramon singled home Jordan Guida and a Josh Mazzola ground out to short scored Tyler Graham from third.
Thanks to Rusch, who settled down and stopped Quebec cold, the Goldeyes never trailed by more than 3-2. Rusch, who didn't get the decision, finished the game by retiring 13 Capitales in a row.
"We had a depleted bullpen and I needed eight innings from Matt today," said Forney. "I didn't tell anybody that, but I don't know who I could have used. I want to use Aaron Correa in a spot start on Tuesday, so I didn't want to be in a situation where I had to go down there. Matt finished so well. It was a tremendous effort.
Patrick Keating (3-0, 0.71 ERA) got the win for Winnipeg, while Cox (0-1, 6.75 ERA) suffered the loss for Quebec.
Lentini was the only Goldeyes batter to have a multi-hit game, going two-for-four with a run scored and the game-tying RBI. With another solid game, Lentini raised his batting average to an even .300.
Immediately after Sunday's game, the Goldeyes boarded the bus to head for St. Paul where they'll open a three-game series on Monday night.