The St. Paul Saints had been finding the confines of CHS Field to not be particularly friendly, losing five straight games at home entering Saturday night’s contest. Things did not look well when Christian Ibarra led off the game with a home run, but Saints starter Chris Nunn was dominant from that point on, allowing just one more hit over his six innings of work as the Saints downed the Lincoln Saltdogs, 3-1. Burt Reynolds hit his 10th homer of the year to pace the offense.
It was a great start for Lincoln. Christian Ibarra fell behind 1-2, then drilled a solo homer over the wall in left for his seventh homer of the year.
The lead would only last until the bottom of the second when the St. Paul Saints would tie the score. Justin O’Conner doubled with one down before Noah Perio, Jr. flew out for the second out of the frame. Michael Tamburino had a chance to get out of the inning, but he walked Dante Bichette, Jr. on five pitches and Anthony Phillips followed with a bloop single over the first baseman’s head, scoring O’Conner and tying the game at one.
In the third, St. Paul would grab the lead. Kyle Barrett singled to center to get the inning started, and Burt Reynolds followed by drilling home run No. 10 over the wall in left to make it a 3-1 Saints lead.
After giving up the home run, Chris Nunn (1-1) took control of this game. He would retire 14 in a row, seeing his streak come to an end when Dashenko Ricardo doubled to start the sixth. However, the Saltdogs would strand the runner. Nunn left after six, allowing the 2-hits and one earned run. He struck out 5.
After the game, the lefty discussed how he responded to the lead off home run. “Usually I get upset. It puts me in another gear, but I have been working on my resiliency this year. Whatever happens, it’s about the next pitch.”
It was clear that he could feel it was his night. “Probably by the third inning I was feeling really good. I could feel my secondary pitches start to work by the third inning and that is when I really started to get into a groove.”
Mike Devine came on in the seventh and tossed two scoreless innings for the Saints. Zach Jones came on in the ninth and tossed a perfect frame, striking out 2 for his first save of the season.
Michael Tamburino was the hardluck loser. The Saltdogs starter allowed only 6-hits and 3-runs in 7-innings. He is now 4-3.
Burt Reynolds led the Saints offense going 2-4 with a run and 2-RBI. Lincoln had just 2-hits in the game.
The rubber match of this three-game set is tomorrow. Kyle Kinman (3-1, 2.93) will go for Lincoln. He will be opposed by Matt Solter (1-3, 4.30). First pitch is scheduled for 5:05.
By Robert Pannier