Max Murphy, Bullpen Puts Saints Back in First Place
St. Paul Saints Manager George Tsamis had the early hook on Independence Day, removing his starter after just two-thirds of an inning, but he would get outstanding relief as the Saints downed the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, 8-5. Max Murphy homered and drove in four and Burt Reynolds added a three run shot as St. Paul moved back into first place in the North Division.
The St. Paul Saints came out of the chute on fire. Max Murphy was hit by pitch to leadoff the game and Noah Perio, Jr. followed with a base hit that moved Murphy to third. That brought Burt Reynolds to the plate, who drilled a three run homer, his ninth of the year, to put St. Paul on top, 3-0.
In the bottom half of the inning, Saints starter Ryan Zimmerman struck out Devan Ahart to get things started, but then walked Maikol Gonzalez and Brennan Metzger before giving up a single to Charlie Valerio to load the bases. Keury De La Cruz hit into a fielders choice that brought Gonzalez home before Leobaldo Pina drew a walk and that would be it for Zimmerman. Jake Matthys came on and struck out Chris Jacobs to end the inning.
The Saints responded with two runs in the top of the second. Matt Snyder and Anthony Phillips led off the inning with back-to-back singles. A sacrificed move both runners into scoring position before Max Murphy singled into right field, driving both runners in to extend the St. Paul lead to four.
An inning later, Dante Bichette, Jr. singled before Justin O’Conner drew a walk. Snyder was then hit by pitch to load the bases and that would be it for RedHawks starter Brandon Barker. Former Saint Benji Waite came in and induced Phillips to hit into a double play. That allowed Bichette to score putting St. Paul on top 6-1.
Matthys pitched well after taking over for Zimmerman. He retired the first seven batters he faced, but wore down in the fourth and Fargo-Moorhead was able to rally. De La Cruz fouled off four pitches before drawing a walk to lead off the inning and moved to second when Pina singled. Jacobs then hit into a double play but Tim Colwell kept the inning alive with a double that brought home De La Cruz. Yhoxian Medina followed with a single up the middle to bring home Colwell to cut the deficit to three.
It stayed that way until the sixth when the St. Paul Saints would extend their lead back to five. With two down and Phillips at first after drawing a walk, Murphy turned on an 0-2 pitch, drilling it over the right field wall for his first home run of the season.
Matthys (3-3) came out in the fourth after tossing three solid innings of relief. Beck Wheeler retired the final batter of the fourth and would toss 1.2 innings of scoreless relief overall. Ken Frosch came on with one out in the sixth and gave up a double before retiring the final two batters he faced.
Zack Jones then came on and tossed a scoreless seventh, but he found himself in trouble in the eighth. A one out walk to Jacobs got the inning started before Colwell doubled to put two in scoring position with one out. Mike Devine came in and gave up a base hit to Medina that scored Jacobs before an error allowed Ahart to reach and Colwell to score. Devine then induced a double play to end the threat. The right-hander would toss a scoreless ninth to finish off the Saints 8-5 victory. Overall, the Saints bullpen went 8.1-innings, allowing 9-hits and 3-earned runs.
Max Murphy finished 3-4 with 2-runs scored and 4-RBI. Burt Reynolds drove in three for St. Paul. Yhoxian Medina led the offense for the RedHawks, going 2-4 with 2-RBI.
The St. Paul Saints have Thursday off before welcoming the Lincoln Saltdogs on Friday to begin a three-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier