There is nothing like the ping of an aluminum bat in the cool spring air or the sight of a guy who bought his spot on the Goldeyes roster at a charity event – actually coming in TWICE to act as pinch runner -- or watching the Goldeyes score three runs in the eighth to put the game away without the benefit of a single hit.
Yes, it's the annual pre-season game between the University of Winnipeg Wesmen and the Winnipeg Goldeyes and it's usually a crazy evening at the ballpark. It certainly was a crazy one on Friday night.
This year, the Wesmen played a heck of a game, pinging out nine hits in an 8-4 loss to the local pro team. For the Goldeyes it was the final home game of the pre-season and while it probably didn't tell Rick Forney a lot about his new team, it did give his players a chance to have some fun at home before heading out for 16 days on the road.
"I thought the Wesmen kids did a great job tonight," said Forney. "They played a real good baseball game. We saw a better team this year than last year, that's for sure. Their shortstop made two real good plays and the third baseman made a great play in the eighth. Their fundamentals were better than last year. They're improving. They gave us a real good baseball game."
Left fielder Ryan Scoma was the player of the game for the Goldeyes, going three-for-three with two runs scored and an RBI. Fehlandt Lentini went two-for-five with a run scored and two driven in. The Goldeyes scored three in the third, two in the sixth and then three in the eighth on four walks, two productive outs and two stolen bases.
Forney also had a look at six pitchers. The only pitcher to struggle was Justin Garcia who gave up all four runs on four hits in the fourth inning.
"Our pitchers had some trouble getting loose in the colder weather," said Forney. "The balls weren't rubbed up and they didn't get a good feel for the baseball. And I thought our outfielders had some trouble picking up the ball off the aluminum bats, but we played good defense today and I was happy with a good day's work."
Nick Drews and Brendan Gaunt each had two hits for the Wesmen. Drews scored a run and also drove one in.
The Wesmen starter Josh Loewen, in his final game at the university level, was the hard-luck loser. However, in 5.2 innings of work, he allowed five runs on 11 hits and didn't look out of place against a professional ball club.
Aaron Correa earned the victory for the Goldeyes after throwing two scoreless innings.
That was the final home pre-season game for the Goldeyes. The team will now head out onto the road, play in Fargo Saturday night and Sunday afternoon and then in Kansas and Wichita next week before opening the season in Grand Prairie, Texas next Friday night.
The first home game is not until May 27 when the Laredo Lemurs open the season at Shaw Park.