It is a common idea in sports that a change of scenery can sometimes lead to greater success. That sure proved to be the difference for Burt Reynolds, who became an instant success in his first game with the St. Paul Saints, blasting two home runs to help lead the Saints to an 8-6 come from behind victory over the Winnipeg Goldeyes on Thursday evening. Reynolds finished with 5-RBI and Mike Devine evened his record with his second victory of the year.
John Straka started for St. Paul and he found himself in some trouble right off. Andrew Sohn and Dave Sappelt led off with back-to-back singles and the bases became loaded on a Josh Romanski single. Reggie Abercrombie followed with a sharp single up the middle that brought home Sohn. A single by Eric Aguilera extended the lead to two, but a double play made it look like maybe the damage would be limited. However, Grant Heyman singled into left to bring home Abercrombie and Matt McCann would bring home the final two runs of the inning with a two run single to make it 5-0.
The Saints would respond with a run in the top of the second. Burt Reynolds, appearing in his second game for St. Paul, took a 2-2 pitch over the wall in center field for his fifth home run of the season.
Trailing by four in the top of the fourth, St. Paul would turn to their new slugger to help get them get back into the game. A walk to Richard Prigatano started the inning before Max Murphy singled into right sending Prigatano to third. That brought Reynolds to the plate, who took an 0-2 pitch deep over the right field wall for his second homer of the night, cutting the deficit to one.
Winnipeg was able to extend their lead back to two in the bottom of the fourth. A walk to Kevin Garcia started the inning and he moved to second on a wild pitch. Straka retired the next two batters, but Sappelt delivered a clutch two-out single to drive home Garcia to make it 6-4.
The St. Paul Saints would cut the deficit to one in the top of the sixth. Josh Blanco relieved for PJ Browne, who was making his first start for the Goldeyes. Murphy greeted him with a shot down the line in right field that he legged out for a triple. Reynolds followed with a groundout that scored Murphy making it 6-5.
In the seventh, St. Paul would come all the way back to tie the score. Luke Pettersen reached on an error to start the inning. That brought JJ Gould to the plate, who looked to sacrifice but an error by the catcher allowed him to reach and for the runner to move to second, with another error allowing Pettersen to reach third. Two batters later, Prigatano singled to score Pettersen, tying the game at six.
It would stay that way until the ninth, when St. Paul would take their first lead of the game. With closer Victor Capellan on the hill for Winnipeg, Pettersen struck out to start the frame but Gould walked before Kes Carter singled into right field. Carter then stole second. On the play, Gould looked like he was going to try to steal home, but changed his mind as he was picked off and it looked like St. Paul would come away with nothing but, with Carter at second, the Goldeyes opted to intentionally walk Prigatano to face Murphy. He made them pay with the ground single into right field, scoring Carter to put the Saints on top. A passed ball scored Prigatano to give St. Paul an 8-6 lead.
Mike Devine (2-2) had come on in the eighth and tossed a perfect frame for St. Paul. He remained for the ninth, giving up two hits but induced a double play by Romanski to end the game.
Burt Reynolds finished 2-5 with 2-runs scored and 5-RBI. Max Murphy and Kes Carter were both 3-5. Reggie Abercrombie was 3-4 with a run and an RBI for Winnipeg.
The second game of this four game series is set for Friday night. The St. Paul Saints will send Ryan Zimmerman (1-0, 3.10) to the hill. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00.
By Robert Pannier