The Lincoln Saltdogs and Winnipeg Goldeyes went toe-to-toe Wednesday at Haymarket Park, but a four-run Winnipeg inning spoiled the opening game of the best-of-five playoff series for the Saltdogs. Winnipeg won 5-4.
Lincoln thwarted former Saltdog Kevin McGovern's start back on the Haymarket mound by getting a run in four straight innings from the second to the fifth, but it was the explosive Winnipeg lineup that got back in the game against Lincoln starter Shairon Martis.
“We matched up with them, but we kind of lost the freebie battle there,” manager Bobby Brown said. “I don't know how many guys they walked, but I feel we gave them a little too many free passes that led to their big inning.”
Martis finished with five walks, three coming in the Goldeyes four-run sixth inning that tied the game. The Goldeyes allowed just five walks total from five different pitchers, with three credited to McGovern.
In the sixth inning, Winnipeg's David Bergin hit a one-out, bases-loaded double to drive in two runs. After an intentional walk to Wes Darvill loaded the bases again, a nonintentional one to Mason Katz forced in a third run and a sacrifice fly by Andrew Sohn tied the game.
J.R. Bunda issued two walks in relief of Martis, but avoided any damage before Winnipeg scratched a run across in the eighth inning. Casey Turgeon's two-out single drove in Darvill from second base with the go-ahead ru.
Brown, who on Tuesday said some of younger guys may need to rely on veteran leadership, got a big day from rookie Joe Robbins.
Robbins hit a solo home run in the fourth inning that built Lincoln's lead to 3-0, and kept a couple of hits and a run off the board while patrolling center field before moving to third base late in the game.
“Joe is terrific. He comes to play every day and he has a multiple of skills whether it is playing center field, third, running or hitting for power,” Brown said. “He played with a lot of poise today and I am really proud of him.”
Lincoln also got a home run from Curt Smith in the the fifth inning, a Dashenko Ricardo RBI double in the second, and a bases-loaded walk to Chrsitian Ibarra in the third.
Derek Gordon will take the mound for Lincoln in Game 2. Brown is very comfortable with the Lincoln native taking the mound.
“I love our chances with Gordon,” Brown said. “He's pitched in a lot of big games for us this year and won a lot of big games for us all year, and I wouldn't want anybody else on the mound.”
The Saltdogs finished with 10 hits, and got the tying run on base in both the eighth and ninth innings but couldn't bring it home.
Game 2 is at 6:45 p.m. Thursday.