The international rule has not been particularly kind to the St. Paul Saints this season, and Saturday night it was especially cruel as a missed call by the home plate umpire cost the club, giving the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks the 8-7 win. It was a sad way to see such a tense game come to an end.
Tyler Herron faced off against Jeff Shields, and through the first three innings both pitchers were doing their jobs. Herron gave up two singles to start the game, then retired the next eight batters in a row before walking Willie Argo with two outs in the third.
Shields gave up a lead-off double in the second, but retired the other nine batters he faced through the first three frames. That included seven ground ball outs, including four to shortstop Anthony Phillips.
In the fourth the Saints finally broke through. Ian Gac singled to begin the inning, but Herron retired the next two hitters. A walk to Ronnie Bourquin kept the inning alive, and Phillips made the RedHawks starter pay by blasting a three-run home run over the left field fence to give St. Paul the lead. It was the shortstop’s first home run of the season. Dan Kaczrowski was the next hitter and he took the first offering by Herron and hit it over the left field fence for his second home run of the season. That made it 4-0.
Shields had looked brilliant through the first five innings. In the fourth and fifth innings he retired all six hitters he faced, and had a one-hitter going through the first half of the game. In the sixth Fargo-Moorhead finally got to him.
Anthony Renz led off with a single and moved to second on a single by Frank Salerno. A base hit by Drew Muren loaded the bases and Zach Penprase beat out an infield single that scored Renz and left the bases loaded. Chad Mozingo reached on a fielder’s choice that scored Salerno and Bonfe made it a one-run game with a single to left field that scored Muren. Shields retired Joe Dunigan for the second out, but Joe Staley singled to center to bring home Mozingo. Bonfe attempted to reach third, but Alonzo Harris’ throw nailed him at the bag to end the inning. It was a great rally however that tied the score.
In the bottom half of the sixth the Saints took back the lead. Back-to-back singles by Mike Kvasnicka and Ronnie Bourquin started the inning and both runners moved into scoring position after a sacrifice by Phillips. Kaczrowski’s sacrifice fly scored Kvasnicka and St. Paul was back on top.
In the seventh the Saints extended their lead. Willie Argo singled to begin the inning and moved to second when Vinny DiFazio beat out an infield single. Gac loaded the bases with a single of his own and Kvasnicka brought Argo home when he drew a walk with the bases loaded. That made the score 6-4.
In the top of the eighth the Saints turned to Alex Sogard. The lefty retired the first hitter of the inning, but then walked Penprase and gave up a double to Mozingo to put two runners in scoring position. That brought a call to the bullpen again and right-hander Mike Zouzalik took over. Joe Bonfe, the former Saints player, worked the count to 2-2, then took Zouzalik deep to give the RedHawks the lead. It was Bonfe’s first home run of the season, and couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for his club.
Once again the St. Paul Saints responded to Fargo scoring. In the bottom of the eighth Mike Noteware retired the first two hitters of the inning, but then gave up a towering shot to Argo that tied the game. Argo’s seventh home run of the season tied the score.
Neither team could score in the ninth or tenth innings, setting up the international rule in the 11th. Bonfe started on second for Fargo-Moorhead. Joe Dunigan lined a single up the middle that Harris retrieved and came up throwing home. The throw beat Bonfe to the plate and DiFazio reached behind to make the tag. Bonfe appeared to be out on the sweeping tag by the Saints catcher, but the umpire called him safe, and the RedHawks were back on top.
In the bottom of the inning Mike Nesseth came in for Fargo. Kaczrowski was the runner on second, but he stayed there as Nesseth retired the side to end the game. Ty Kelley (1-5) earned his first win of the season for the RedHawks. Nesseth nabbed his fourth save. Mehlich (0-2) took the loss.
Bonfe had a huge day against his former club. He went 3-5 with 2 runs and 4 RBI. Salerno added 2 hits in 4 trips to the plate.
Argo was 3-5 with 2 runs and an RBI for St. Paul. Gac was 2-6 with a run scored and Phillips had 3 RBI.
By Robert Pannier