Fish hit­ter red-hot

Gold­eyes open first home­s­tand with Rohm bat­ting .471

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - FRONT PAGE - By Melissa Martin

THE t rip was long and the base­ball wasn’t per­fect, but it was good enough to bring the Winnipeg Gold­eyes home with a win­ning record.

Just as im­por­tant, the 6-4 sea­son-open­ing road trip gave man­ager Rick For­ney a chance to test the fire­power of his weapons. Sure, there are still some kinks to work out both on the mound and at the plate, but some big po­ten­tial surged out of the gate.

Want to see some hit­ting? Con­sider the su­per­heated start for out­fielder David Rohm, who sits atop the Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion with a .471 av­er­age. Hun­gry for stolen bases? Adam Heisler has got it cov­ered, with 10 such thefts in as many games — and his .405 bat­ting av­er­age isn’t too shabby ei­ther.

What about lights-out pitch­ing? Look no fur­ther: through his first two starts, re­turn­ing south­paw Kyle An­der­son is hold­ing a 2-0 record and a rock­bot­tom 0.68 ERA. He was out­stand­ing in Sun­day’s 4-2 mati­nee vic­tory in Lin­coln, al­low­ing the Salt­dogs just two hits and zero walks in seven in­nings.

Now, it’s time for fans to see the same. Af­ter 17 days away, the Gold­eyes were set to roll back into Winnipeg this morn­ing, hours be­fore their home opener at Shaw Park. With only six re­turn­ing play­ers from last year’s cam­paign, it’s time for this bunch to show the home crowd what they’ve got

“Every­body’s just ready to get back home,” re­turn­ing out­fielder Heisler said Sun­day, on the bus out of Lin­coln. “We’ve played in a few places that the fan sup­port is noth­ing like it’s go­ing to be back home. I’ve been telling the guys that the ex­cite­ment level takes it up.”

Which prompts the ques­tion: with so much base­ball yet to play, how much does a strong start mat­ter?

In 2015, the Gold­eyes limped home af­ter go­ing 4-6 through their sea­son-open­ing roadie. That record wasn’t im­me­di­ately wor­ri­some so early in the cam­paign, but it was a drop from 2014’s hot 7-3 start. As it turned out, it was also an early in­di­ca­tion last year’s Fish weren’t click­ing as in­tended.

They did win their home opener against the Sioux Falls Ca­naries, but lost the next two games of the se­ries. It was the first fans would see of a sea­son­long trend that saw them record fewer wins at home (22-27) than on the road (25-25). In a dis­ap­point­ing June, they went 4-10 at home.

“We got off on the wrong foot and never re­ally caught up from it,” Heisler said. “So we’ll take the six now, and just con­tinue do­ing it. I think our of­fence is not where it’s go­ing to be... we have ath­letes all over the field. I’m ex­cited about this team and what’s go­ing to hap­pen once we get go­ing.”

Al­ready, there is some mo­men­tum. Bat­ting in the mid­dle of the or­der, Rohm has been the of­fence’s en­gine, and Sun­day af­ter­noon he ex­tended his hit­ting streak to a per­fect 10 games. Heisler re­spected Rohm’s swing when they were op­po­nents in af­fil­i­ated ball; now, he gets to ben­e­fit from the pow­er­house be­hind him.

“We re­ally feed off it,” Heisler said. “I was just say­ing to Rick be­fore the game to­day, with the way Rohm’s been hit­ting it feels like if we just get on base we’re go­ing to be dan­ger­ous through this whole lineup.”

When only 10 per cent of the sea­son is in the books, . noth­ing is writ­ten in stone. Some hit­ters who are cold right now won’t likely stay that way; some of the hot pitch­ers will prob­a­bly hit cool spots. Things will change — and yet, there is some­thing about the way a sea­son starts that lends a last­ing tone.

“It’s im­por­tant,” For­ney said. “We’re com­ing off the trip 6-4 and eas­ily could have been 8-2 if we hadn’t made some mis­takes. We did, and it cost us some games, and hope­fully we’ve learned from it. At the end of the sea­son, if you’re a game or two out, you start look­ing back and say­ing ‘ah, we shoulda won this one.’ ”


Winnipeg Gold­eyes left y Kyle An­der­son is 2-0 with a bare-bones 0.68 ERA to star t the sea­son.

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