Kramer Sneed Elevates Game as St. Paul Saints Win, 2-1
The game started out looking like it was going to be a tough one for St. Paul Saints left-hander Kramer Sneed. The Saints starter has fully admitted that he has struggled early in games this season and Monday night was no different. Sneed struggled by his standards through the first four innings, but settled in to dominate, leading his club to a 2-1 victory over the Winnipeg Goldeyes.
Sneed was matched up against right-hander Matt Jackson. Neither team was able to score through the first three innings, but Jackson’s ability to hold his opponent down came with much less work to keep the score tied. Jackson retired eight of the first nine hitters he faced, allowing only a second inning single that was erased on a double-play.
Sneed, on the other hand, was laboring to keep Winnipeg from scoring. In the bottom of the first he allowed a walk and a single before striking out the last two hitters of the inning to end the threat. In the second he struck out the side around a two-0ut single, and in the third he loaded the bases before striking out Ryan Babineau to end the frame. The left-hander had given up four hits and two walks through the first three innings, but he had also struck out seven. Most importantly, he had not allowed a run.
In the fourth inning both teams would get on the scoreboard. In the top half of the frame Alonzo Harris led off with a walk and moved to third on an error by the pitcher. Two batters later Ian Gac beat out an infield single, scoring Harris and staking the St. Paul Saints to 1-0 lead.
The lead did not last however. Brady Wilson walked to begin the home half of the inning and, after stealing second and reaching third on an error, came home on a single by Brad Boyer to knot the score at one. It looked like the Goldeyes might take the lead. With Boyer at second Adam Heisler lined a single into center field. Harris moved quickly to get the ball and Boyer decided to challenge Harris’s arm. Big mistake. The center fielder fired a bullet to the plate that catcher Vinny DiFazio nabbed. He thrust his glove into the chest of Boyer, knocking him down as the out call was made.
It was a huge out, because it looked to that point like Sneed may not survive even one more inning. However, the left-hander came alive after that. He retired the next nine men in order, giving his team the chance to take the lead.
In the seventh they did just that. With one out, Angelo Songco blasted his eighth home run of the season to give the St. Paul Saints the lead. That gave Songco his league leading 41st RBI. For the Saints first baseman, it was another outstanding night. Songco finished 3-4, extending his hitting streak to seven-games, a span where he has gone 16-28 (.571).
In the eighth manager George Tsamis turned to his bullpen. The Goldeyes got a lead-off single verses Mikey Mehlich. Alex Sogard came in and got Jon Weber to ground into a fielder’s choice for the first out of the inning. Mike Zouzalik was brought in and on the first pitch he threw he got a double-play ball by Josh Mazzola to end the inning.
In the ninth Ryan Rodebaugh came in to close out the game. He was looking to rebound after that tough loss two nights ago, and he looked incredibly sharp. He faced just three hitters, striking out one to end the game. For Rodebaugh it was his 12th save of the season, second most in the American Association.
While there were some great performances, Kramer Sneed’s (9-1) was at the top of the list. The left-hander took the league lead in wins, and lowered his ERA to 2.56, ninth best in the American Association. His nine wins are a career high for a season, and with half the season still left to go he looks to obliterate that mark. He struck out 8 in 7 innings of work, one short of his career high.
The St. Paul Saints did not win a series for the first time this season, breaking their 14-series win streak. They did split the series, however, giving them a 15-series undefeated streak. The club reaches the midway point with a league best 38-12 mark, 16 games ahead of the next best record in the North Division.
By Robert Pannier