The St. Paul Saints entered Sunday’s game against the Chicago Dogs on a three-game losing skid. Injuries and key signings have left the team depleted, but it was one of those new signings that would help to turn the game around as Jake Smith would go 3-5 with 2-RBI in his second professional game to help lead the Saints to a 7-1 victory. John Straka returned to the team and tossed five outstanding innings to earn his first victory of the season.
Chicago would get on the board in the bottom of the first. Jonathan Moroney started the inning by singling into left field. Edwin Arroyo attempted to lay down a bunt, but the ball was misplayed by the St. Paul first baseman. That allowed Arroyo to reach and for Moroney to make it to third. Trey Vavra walked to load the bases and it looked like the Dogs would get a commanding lead early. However, Straka was able to get Joe Benson to ground into a double play before getting Dalton Blaser to fly out to when the threat. Chicago was on the board, but only with a run.
The Saints would be held scoreless through the first two frames by Chicago starter Connor Root, but they would finally break through in the third. JJ Gould singled with one down and moved to third when Jake Smith followed with a single into right field. With runners at the corners and one down, Kes Carter would reach on a catcher’s interference call loading the bases. That brought Max Murphy to the plate, who grounded a single up the middle scoring both Gould and Smith.
John Straka (1-0) came out after 5-innings. He allowed 4-hits and 4-walks, with the run being unearned.
At that point, the St. Paul Saints turned the game over to their bullpen and they were absolutely brilliant. Mike Devine came in to start the sixth and tossed two hitless innings, allowing 2-walks while striking out two. Jake Matthys came on in the eighth and retired the side in order.
Meanwhile, the Saints would increase their lead in the top of the sixth. Noah Perio, Jr. started the inning with a sharp single into right and moved to second when Gould walked two batters later. Jared Carkuff came on and was greeted by a double down the line off the bat of Smith, easily scoring Perio to extend the lead to two. That brought Kes Carter to the plate, who launched his fourth home run of the season to make it a 6-1 game.
An inning later, the St. Paul Saints would extend their lead. Rich Mascheri came on for Chicago and gave up back to back singles to Dante Bichette, Jr. and Perio to start the inning. He would strike out the next two batters, but Smith delivered a clutch single into right field, scoring Bichette to extend the lead to six.
Ken Frosch came on in the ninth inning for St. Paul. He would give up a walk, but that would be all that the Dogs could muster against the left-hander. In all, the Saints bullpen tossed 4.0-innings of hitless relief, walking three and allowing no runs.
Jake Smith finished 3-5 with 2-runs and 2-RBI for the Saints. Kes Carter was 2-3 with a run and 3-RBI. JJ Gould scored 2-runs and Max Murphy drove in tw0.
The St. Paul Saints will move on to Nebraska, beginning a three-game series with the Lincoln Saltdogs on Monday night. First pitch is scheduled for 6:45.
By Robert Pannier