A balk call in the ninth inning ruined the Wingnuts celebration in the American Association championship series.
After the balk erased what appeared to be the game’s final out, Winnipeg scored to tie the Wingnuts on its way to a 4-3 win in 17 innings on Monday in Winnipeg.
The best-of-5 American Association championship series is tied 2-all. Game 5 is at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday at Shaw Park.
The Winguts led 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth and appeared to clinch their second American Association title when closer Ryan Kussmaul induced a groundball with two outs. A balk call erased the play. The Goldeyes tied the game on Casey Turgeon’s two-out double in the ninth, scoring Wes Darvill after he led off with a single.
“Being a hitter when you hear balk it’s a free swing. I heard balk, I swung at it, they made the play, he called me out, they start running to the mound, but I start walking back to home plate,” Turgeon said. “I think the pitcher kinda let his guard down there for a second thinking they won everything. He gave me a pitch I could handle, I shortened my swing up and put a good swing on it.”
The Wingnuts celebrated on the field, even as the umpire walked toward the mound motioning that the game was not over.
Turgeon scored the winning run in the 17th, coming home on a double by David Rohm. Goldeyes reliever Mikey O’Brien entered in the 10th inning and struck out eight in six innings. Zack Dodson pitched two scoreless innings for the win.
Wichita stranded two runners in the 13th, 14th and 15th innings.
The Wingnuts took a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning when Richard Prigatano’s single scored Brent Clevlen.
In the third, T.J. Mittelstaedt drove in two runs with a two-out single to tie the game 2-all.
Andrew Sohn’s two-run home run gave Winnipeg a 2-0 lead in the second inning.
The game last 5 hours and 59 minutes, the longest time in league history. It also surpassed the American Association’s previous record, a 15-inning contest in 2011 between El Paso and Wichita.
Winnipeg can win its fourth American Association title on Tuesday. The Wingnuts won in 2014 and lost in the championship series to Winnipeg in 2012 and 2016.