Pitching Staff Shines in Saints Double-Header Sweep Over Stockade
The St. Paul Saints pitching staff has had some challenges staying consistent this season and, after giving up six-runs in their first game against the Salina Stockade, improvement did not look to be in the near future, however, following a postponement of yesterday’s game because of rain, the Saints swept a double-header allowing five-runs in the two games to win 6-3, 3-2. John Straka evened his record in Game 1 and Tony Thomas homered in the sixth to give St. Paul the victory in Game 2. The two losses extended the Stockade’s losing streak to 15 straight.
In Game 1, Straka was opposed by Tim Blackmon. The Saints would score single runs in each of the first two innings to take the lead. In the bottom of the first, Brady Burzynski walked with one down and moved to third on a wild pitch before Nate Hanson walked. Blackmon’s second wild pitch of the inning plated Burzynski and it was 1-0 St. Paul.
In the bottom of the second, Tony Caldwell led off with a single and moved to second on a base hit by Jon Kristoffersen. Tanner Vavra laid down a perfect sacrifice that moved both runners into scoring position, and Danny Oh brought home Caldwell with a sacrifice fly. The Saints led 2-0.
Straka dominated through the first three innings, allowing two singles and one of those runners was erased by a double-play. In the top of the fourth, the Stockade finally got on the board. Jesse Baker singled with one out and moved to second on a wild pitch. Next up was Jordan Caillouet, who lined a double into center field that scored Baker and the lead was just one.
The Saints responded with two-runs in the bottom half of the inning. Caldwell started out this frame with a walk and Kristoffersen then reached on an error by Blackmon. Vavra looked to sacrifice both runners up, but another error allowed him to reach and the bases were loaded. Blackmon then stuck out Oh, and Manager J.D. Droddy called on Ethan Rosebeck. The reliever fanned Burzynski and it looked like Salina would get out of the inning, but Hanson came up with a clutch single to score both Caldwell and Kristoffersen to make it 4-1.
In the sixth, St. Paul extended their lead to five. Oh doubled with one out and Breland Almadova pinch hit and delivered a base hit that scored Oh. A wild pitch moved Almadova to second and he scored on Hanson’s second hit of the game. that made it 6-1.
Straka had been cruising along and looked like he would complete the seven-inning game, but Salina mounted a rally in the seventh, chasing the St. Paul starter from the game. Caillouet doubled to start the inning and scored on a single by Jimmy Heck. Kewby Meyer followed with a base hit to put two on with one down, and Manager George Tsamis turned to his bullpen.
John Straka (2-2) went 6.1-innings, allowing 8-hits, a walk, and 3-earned runs. He struck out 3.
Seth Rosin came on and gave up a sacrifice fly to Roche Woodard that scored Heck. He then yielded a base hit, and the Salina Stockade had the tying run at the plate, however, the Saints closer got Logan Trowbridge to ground out to end the game. That was Rosin’s fourth save of the season.
Nate Hanson led the offense, going 2-3 with 2-RBI and a walk. Tony Caldwell was 1-2 with 2-runs and a walk. Jordan Caillouet finished 2-3 with a run and an RBI for Salina.
The second game was affair where the Saints never trailed. Once again, the Saints took the lead in the bottom of the first. Oh walked to start the inning and moved to second on a stolen base. Connor Bach retired the next two hitters, but Brady Shoemaker delivered a clutch two-out hit that scored Oh to make it 1-0.
Corey Williams made the emergency start for St. Paul and he was absolutely brilliant. The left-hander retired the first six batters of the game and was only one over the minimum after three. In the fourth his stamina got the better of him, and the Stockade tied the score.
Eric Ferguson singled to get the inning underway and Baker reached on a fielder’s choice. That put two on with no one out. Williams struck out Caillouet, but Daniel Aldrich singled into right field to score Ferguson and the game was tied. Vinny Nitoli came on to retire the final two batters of the inning, but the score was tied.
Following the run in the first, Bach looked brilliant. Including the final out of the first, the Salina starter retired 10 of the next 11 batters he faced to keep the score tied. However, he ran out of steam in the fifth.
Vavra walked to get the inning underway and moved to third on a wild pitch. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Hanson to make it 2-1 St. Paul.
The Stockade tied the score in their next at-bat. Nittoli retired the first two batters of the inning, but Caillouet tied it with one swing, launching his fourth homer of the season to even the score at 2.
It looked like the long losing streak was about to come to an end, but Tony Thomas crushed those hopes. He led off the bottom of the sixth, and drilled a 1-0 pitch over the left field fence of his fourth home run of the season and it was 3-2 St. Paul.
Caleb Thielbar (2-0) had relieved to finish the sixth, and he closed out the seventh to earn the victory. The left-hander struck out 2. Tony Thomas finished 2-3 with a run and an RBI.
The St. Paul Saints now head to Grand Prairie to begin a three-game series with the AirHogs. Coming off his brilliant debut, Ryan Zimmerman (1-0, 0.00) goes for the St. Paul Saints. Tyler Bremer (1-0, 1.04) will go for Grand Prairie. The Stockade remain in Cleburne to take on the Railroaders starting tomorrow.
By Robert Pannier