Gordon, Kourtis Combine to Control Saints; Saltdogs Win 13-2
For the second straight night, the Lincoln Saltdogs (43-23) dominated the St. Paul Saints (36-31), this time thanks to the efforts of Derek Gordon and Dimitri Kourtis, who combined to allow a total of 4-hits as Lincoln rolled 13-2. Cesar Valera, Tommy Mendonca, and Christian Ibarra each drove in three in the victory to move the Saltdogs to four up in the Central Division.
Benji Waite had been one of the Saints best starters this season, but the Lincoln Saltdogs had no problem figuring him out early. Christian Ibarra led off the bottom of the first by drawing a walk before Matty Johnson was hit by a pitch. That brought Cesar Valera to the plate, who lined a ball to the wall that he legged out for a triple. Both runners easily scored, and Valera came home on an error on the relay to make it 3-0.
In the bottom of the second, Nathaniel Maggio started the inning with a walk and Randolph Oduber followed with a base hit that moved Maggio to second. A ground out moved both runners into scoring position and both Maggio and Oduber came home on a double by Ibarra. Two batters later he scored on a wild pitch and it was 6-0.
The lead became seven an inning later. Maggio singled to get it started, then stole second and moved to third on a ground out. With two down, a wild pitch brought him in and that would be it for Waite.
St. Paul was doing nothing against Derek Gordon early on. He gave up a hit and a walk through the first three frames, but it looked like the Saints might get on the board in the fourth. Nate Hanson walked to start the inning, but Gordon then struck out the next two batters. A double by Mitch Delfino kept the inning alive before JJ Gould walked to load the bases. Gordon continued to be overpowering however, striking out Tanner Lubach to end the threat.
It the fifth, the Saints finally did get on the board. Tim Colwell walked with one down and scored on a double by Breland Almadova. A base hit by Hanson moved Almadova to third and he came home on a sacrifice fly by Anthony Gallas. That made it 7-2.
The Lincoln Saltdogs responded with four-runs in the bottom half of the inning to blow this game open. Connor Little retired the first two batters of the inning, but a walk to Johnson kept the inning alive and that proved to be crucial. Valera followed with a base hit and Johnson ran hard on coming all the way around to score. After Curt Smith walked, Tommy Mendonca blasted his fourth homer of the year. That made the score 11-2.
In the sixth, Lincoln extended the lead to 10. Oduber singled with one down. Dashenko Ricardo then grounded to short. The shortstop threw to second but the throw was wild, allowing Ricardo to reach and Oduber to head to third. Ibarra singled to score the runner from third to make it 12-2.
Lincoln added one more run in the seventh. With two down, Brandon Jacobs hit his 10th home run of the season. That would make the score 13-2 which would be the final.
Derek Gordon (7-2) would toss 6 outstanding innings, allowing 4-hits, 2-runs, and 4-walks. He struck out 7. Dimitri Kourtis finished off the game for his first save of the season, tossing 3 perfect innings, while striking out 2.
Cesar Valera finished 3-5 with 2-runs and 3-RBI. Tommy Mendonca was 2-3 with a run and 3-RBI. Christian Ibarra was 2-4 with 2-runs and 3-RBI. Nate Hanson led the Saints offense, going 2-3.
The Lincoln Saltdogs will go for the sweep of their three-game series tomorrow. The Saints send RHP Mark Hamburger (10-3, 3.55) to the mound against Saltdogs RHP Shairon Martis (1-0, 0.00). First pitch is scheduled for 6:45.
By Robert Pannier