Goldeyes keep championship hopes alive with wild 17-inning win
Balk in the bottom of the 9th saves team from loss
It was a must-win, and the Fish swam upstream for 17 innings to deliver a victory.
The Winnipeg Goldeyes forced Game 5 in the best-of-five American Association Championship series Monday, defeating the Wichita Wingnuts 4-3 in a marathon game that ended after 1 a.m.
It was the longest game in team history.
Goldeyes superfan Jim Busby stayed for all 17 innings.
"I would say there was about 1,000 [fans] that were still there," he said Tuesday morning. "There were a lot of families, and they had to leave, plus there were a lot of people who had to go to work in the morning. I'm retired, I was staying right to the end."
Busby has been following the team through their championship bid, heading to Lincoln, Neb. and Wichita, Kan., to watch the Fish play. "I sure as heck wasn't going to miss this," he said.
Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the 9th, the Goldeyes thought their season was over when Casey Turgeon hit a two-out grounder to Wingnut third baseman T.J. Mittelstaedt, who scooped it up and fired to first for the apparent final out of the game.
The players spilled out onto the field and started celebrating. They thought they'd won the championship.- Jim Busby
"The [Wichita] players spilled out onto the field and started celebrating," Busby said. "They thought they'd won the championship."
However, the home plate umpire had declared a balk on the pitcher, meaning it wasn't a legal pitch.
"The home umpire, he literally waded into the middle of the crowd and said 'Sorry, boys, but that's a balked ball,'" Busby said.
The next seven innings were edge-of-your-seat exciting, Busby said, as Wichita managed to get a runner to second base every inning, but couldn't bring him home.
"It was almost like watching two prizefighters in the ring trying to find a way to settle the issue," Busby said.
After Turgeon led off the bottom of the 17th inning with an infield single, David Rohm smacked a double into the right field corner, bringing Turgeon home with the winning run.
The game lasted five hours and 59 minutes. The previous longest game was in 2003 against Joliet, at five hours and 48 minutes.
Busby says he will be at Tuesday's final match at Shaw Park: "I'm going to be there, this is going to be an exciting game."
Tickets for the 7:05 p.m. game are available at Ticketmaster.