Canaries Hold Off Goldeyes in Front of Sellout Crowd
By Tony Cola
Sioux Falls, SD-- A sellout crowd of 4,712 fans got to witness Canary starting pitcher Matt Wickswat carry his team to victory Friday night, as the home team muffled the division-leading Winnipeg Goldeyes with a 5-1 win at the Birdcage thanks to a lockdown performance from the mound. Wickswat (3-7) allowed a lone earned run and seven hits in six strong innings of ball for the Canaries (29-56), who came into the evening looking to rebound after a disappointing series against the New Jersey Jackals. Centerfielder Chris Valencia and shortstop Stephen Branca did their part in providing Wickswat run support with a pair of hits and an RBI apiece.
“They (Winnipeg) are a great team and they’ve obviously been playing well all year,” said right fielder Steve Tinoco. “We always play them tough, and it’s a lot of fun facing these guys.”
The Birds took a 3-0 lead in the first inning after three consecutive RBI singles, starting with a knock from Valencia that drove in Tinoco. Two more run-scoring singles from Branca and Sam Lind, respectively, gave Sioux Falls a field goal advantage after the opening inning of play. Wickswat kept the team from Canada off the scoreboard all the way until the top of the sixth, when a single from Winnipeg first baseman Casey Haerther sent Jake Blackwood to home plate.
A two-run double to deep center from Canary designated hitter Brandon Jones rewarded Sioux Falls a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh inning and offered the Canary relief pitchers all the confidence they’d need to shut the Goldeyes down the rest of the way. Reliever John Brebbia pitched two sharp innings of one-hit baseball in support of Wickswat, while closer Alan DeRatt slammed the door shut on the Goldeyes with a hitless top of the ninth inning.
“It was a great team win,” said Wickswat. “We’re looking to get something started at the end of the season.”
The Canaries will hope to clinch their last home series of the year against the Goldeyes tomorrow night with a tilt at 7:05 pm. Kyle Ruwe will take the mound for Sioux Falls and look to win his sixth game of the year for the Birds. The first 750 fans through the gates will receive a Canaries picture frame, while there will be live musical entertainment courtesy of Two Shakes.