A night after watching Chris Nunn blank the Gary Southshore RailCats, right-hander Eddie Medina was trying to replicate the feat, putting his team just one victory away from reaching the American Association championship series. It looked like he would fall short, as two early runs staked the RailCats to the lead, but Medina was brilliant, not allowing a run over the next six innings to help the St. Paul Saints to an 8-2 victory. Kyle Barrett remained red-hot, recording three hits and scoring two runs in the win.
The RailCats would grab a two run lead in the top of the first-inning. Will Savage led off the game with a double into left field. Two batters later, Tillman Pugh singled into right field. That brought Savage all the way around to score with Pugh taking second on the throw. That proved to be critical as the runner would move to third on a ground out and scored on a base hit up the middle by Ronnie Mitchell to give Gary Southshore a 2-0 lead.
RailCats starter Lars Liguori found themselves in trouble in each of the first two frames, as he allowed two runners to reach in each inning, but came away unscathed. In the third, he would not be so fortunate. The red-hot Kyle Barrett led off the inning with a single into right and moved to second when Burt Reynolds walked. That brought Brady Shoemaker to the plate, who drilled a ball deep to left-center in what looked like a sure home run. However, Pugh was able to get his glove on it, keeping the ball in the field of play, but still allowing Shoemaker to reach on a double. That brought Barrett home to cut the deficit in half. Zach Walters followed with a groundout to bring home Reynolds and the game was tied at two.
An inning later, the St. Paul Saints would take a commanding lead in this contest, chasing Liguori from the game. With one down, Joey Wong singled and moved to second when Max Murphy followed with a base hit. Barrett then lined a single up the middle, bringing Wong around to score while sending Murphy to third. That would be it for the RailCats starter.
Gabe Perez took over, but he would fare no better. Barrett stole second before Reynolds walked to load the bases. A sacrifice fly by Shoemaker brought in Murphy with the second run of the inning and Walters would bring home Barrett with a double into left field. Dante Bichette, Jr. would bring home two more with a ground single into left field to give St. Paul a 7-2 lead.
The Saints would grab one more run in the bottom of seventh-inning. Dan Motl was hit by pitch to start the frame. He then stole second, and reached third when the throw from the catcher to the shortstop was dropped by Andy DeJesus. A sacrifice fly by Wong brought Motl home to extend the lead to six.
Eddie Medina had struggled in the first-inning, and had thrown 64 pitches through the first three frames, but he dominated the Gary Southshore RailCats following the first inning. The right-hander allowed just two hits over the next six innings, as he only found himself in a jam in the fifth, when he allowed a single and a two out walk before getting the final out on a flyball to end the threat. Medina (1-0) came out after seven. He allowed 5-hits, 3-walks, and 2-runs. The right-hander struck out 7.
Mike Devine came on in the eighth and tossed a perfect frame. Zack Jones gave St. Paul a scoreless ninth to finish of the 8-2 victory.
Kyle Barrett was 3-5 with 2-runs and an RBI. Max Murphy, Brady Shoemaker and Dante Bichette, Jr. were each 2-4. Both Bichette and Shoemaker drove in a pair. Tillman Pugh was 2-3 with a run and an RBI for the RailCats.
Leading 2-0, the St. Paul Saints head to Gary to take on the RailCats in Game 3. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier