Jeff Shields, Alonzo Harris Guide St. Paul Saints to 3-1 Win
The St. Paul Saints opened the second half of their season just like they ended many nights of the first half…with a win. It was two of their primetime performers that helped to bring about that victory as starter Jeff Shields and center fielder Alonzo Harris aided the club’s 3-1 win over the Sioux Falls Canaries, making the Saints 39-12.
For the most part of the game, this was a classic pitchers’ duel. Shields was opposed by Miguel Pena, who pitched a great game, holding the American Association’s best offense to just three runs. Three runs proved to be two too many on this night, as the Saints starter was just outstanding.
The right-hander didn’t get off to the start he wanted however, giving up a run in the first inning that gave the Canaries the lead. With two outs, David Bergin singled and moved to second on a base hit by Brian Humphries. RJ Perucki followed by driving an 0-1 pitch by Shields into right field for a base hit to make it 1-0.
Pena kept the Saints off the scoreboard through the first two frames, but in the top of the third the visitors tied the score. Harris singled to begin the inning and moved to second on a sharp single by Willie Argo. Two batters later Ian Gac hit his league leading 20th double of the season to drive Harris home to tie the score.
In the fourth the St. Paul Saints took the lead. Mike Kvasnicka reached on an error by the third baseman, and two batters later Anthony Phillips ripped a single to center to move Kvasnicka to second. Dan Kaczrowski then hit a ball into right field that no one was sure if Jason Repko was going to make the play on or not. The ball wound up dropping in, but Phillips was totally stuck having no idea whether he should run or not, and was gunned down at second for a fielder’s choice. With runners at the corners, Harris singled right back up the middle to drive home Kvasnicka and give the Saints their first lead of the game.
Two innings later St. Paul extended their lead and it was Harris again who came up big. With one out Phillips and Kaczrowski had back-to-back singles to put two on. Harris ripped a single into left center that brought home Phillips and it was 3-1.
It was a very impressive day for Harris. The St. Paul Saints center fielder finished 4-5 and was involved in every scoring play for the Saints. He scored the team’s first run and drove in the final two. The four hits raised his average to .294.
Following the first inning run Shields was just dominant for the next six innings. He retired 18 of the 23 hitters he faced, and no runner reached past second. The Saints starter was pulled after 7 innings. Shields moved his record to 8-0 on the season. His eight wins put him tied for second in the American Association. He gave up 6 hits, 2 walks and 1 earned run, while striking out 4.
Mike Zouzalik gave up two hits in the eighth but kept it a two-run lead. Ryan Rodebaugh came on in the ninth and also allowed two runners to reach base, but he got to take advantage of a near carbon copy of the play that happened to Kaczrowski earlier. With two on Repko hit a ball into right field that no one was sure if Kvasnicka would reach it in time. He did not but Chris Grayson had to hold to make sure and he was easily gunned out at second. Rodebaugh then struck out Bergin to end the game for his 13th save of the season. The St. Paul Saints closer is tied for the league lead.
By Robert Pannier