A great game that saw the two best offensive clubs in the American Association came down to an international rule on the soil of the league’s only team from outside the United States. The game had that kind of drama as the St. Paul Saints sent out their ace starter to face the ace of the Winnipeg Goldeyes staff. Neither pitcher would receive a decision, as it took two extra frames before Casey Haerther decided this one for the home crowd.
The Saints jumped out in front in the top of the first. Alonzo Harris led off with a single and stole second before a base hit by Willie Argo moved him to third. Ian Gac’s grounder was booted by the shortstop, allowing Gac to reach first and Harris to score.
That would be all the scoring that either club would see for the next five innings, as both Crenshaw and Hernandez dominated. Crenshaw retired the first 14 Winnipeg Goldeyes hitters of the game before seeing his run come to an end on a hit by pitch with two outs in the fifth. The big right-hander had a no-hitter through five.
Hernandez was not as sharp as Crenshaw, but he was keeping the Saints from getting any further runs on the scoreboard. This kept the game 1-0 through the first five and a half innings.
In the bottom of the sixth Winnipeg tied the game. With one out Kyle Brandenburg got the first hit of the game for the home team and moved to second on a single by Brad Wilson. Adam Heisler followed with a single to left field that brought home Brandenburg and the game was tied.
In the bottom of the seventh the Goldeyes took the lead. Nic Jackson doubled to lead off the inning, and two batters later Josh Mazzola took a 2-1 offering from Crenshaw and drilled it for his second home run of the season. That made it 3-1, giving Winnipeg their first lead of the game.
The St. Paul Saints got the runs right back in the top of the eighth. Willie Argo began the ninth, and cut the deficit in half by turning on a 1-0 pitch and drilling it over the left field wall to make it 3-2. It was Argo’s fifth home run of the season. Gac followed with a single and moved to second on a wild pitch. Two batters later Vinny DiFazio singled, driving home Gac to tie the game.
While the Saints were happy to be back in the game, there was a problem. The St. Paul bullpen was greatly depleted entering the contest. Dylan Chavez did not travel with the team, and Drew Gay was forced to start yesterday after Pedro Hernandez went on the disabled list. Mike Zouzalik and Mikey Mehlick had both appeared in yesterday’s game, limiting their availability.
That forced Saints manager George Tsamis to use his closer for a third inning. Ryan Rodebaugh had kept the Goldeyes off the scoreboard in the ninth and tenth innings. In the 11th the new international rule was implemented, where Winnipeg began the inning with a runner at second base. A sacrifice moved Brady Wilson to third, and Casey Haerther followed with a base hit that scored Wilson with the walk-off hit.
Rodebaugh (1-1) took the loss to even his record. Raul Rivera (2-1) earned the victory.
Argo and DiFazio remain hot for the St. Paul Saints. Argo was 2-5 with a run and an RBI. DiFazio had 4 hits in 5 plate appearances, and also drove in a run. He is now hitting .397. The St. Paul catcher extended his hitting streak to six games, where he has gone 14-28 during that span.
The victory was more than just a needed win for Winnipeg Goldeyes manager Rick Forney. The 4-3 win was the 500th of his amazing career.
by Robert Pannier