St. Paul Saints starter Robert Coe had struggled at the new CHS Field so far this season. The right-hander had been dominant on the road, posting an ERA below two, while his ERA at home was over twice as much. Coe struggled a bit early on against the Ottawa Champions, but showed he’s a true fighter, battling back to lead his club to a 14-5 victory Monday night.
The Champions jumped out in front in the top of the first inning. Coe retired the first two hitters of the inning, but then gave up a single to right field to Sebastien Boucher and then walked Mike Schwartz. That brought Bryce Masanari to the plate, who lined a single into center field, scoring Boucher to make it 1-0.
It was a great start on the road against the American Association’s top team, but the Champions would find themselves behind coming out of the second inning. Ottawa starter Dan Tobik retired the first batter of the inning, but Mike Kvasnicka followed with a single and Robert Youngdahl followed with a base hit of his own, moving Kvasnicka into scoring position. Tobik struck out Anthony Phillips, but Dan Kaczarowski, who entered the game hitting .140, delivered a clutch two-out single that plated Kvasnicka to tie the score. That hit became more important when Alonzo Harris followed with a drive that cleared the wall in left field for a three-run home run. Harris’ fifth home run of the season made it 4-1.
In the top of the third Ottawa tied the score, and it was the long ball that hurt Coe. Boucher walked to begin the inning and Schwartz followed with second home run of the season. Two batters later Jon Talley hit his second home run of the season to nearly the same spot in right center field to tie the game.
For most teams that would have been a humbling moment, but crushing out opponent’s hopes is part of the business of the St Paul Saints. That was no more apparent than in the bottom half of that inning, when the home club plated seven runs off of six hits.
Vinny DiFazio drew a walk to begin the inning, and moved to second on a single by Ian Gac. Two batters later Kvasnicka singled to load the bases. The carousel was about to begin.
Youngdahl worked the count full, then drew a walk to drive home DiFazio. The run put the Saints back on top. Phillips followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Gac, and Kvasnicka came home on a base hit by Kaczrowski. That would be it for Tobik.
Jack Wagoner came into the game, but did not fare much better. He was greeted with a base hit by Harris that scored Youngdahl, and Argo followed with a single that scored Kaczrowski. DiFazio then came back to the plate and doubled, bringing home Harris and Argo to make it 11-4.
To make sure that the expansion team had no hopes of coming back, the Saints added two more runs in the bottom half of the fourth inning. Angelo Songco walked and scored when Kvasnicka lined a shot over the center fielder’s head that rolled to the wall in center fielder for a double. Youngdahl’s single moved the runner to third, and Phillip’s second sacrifice fly of the game scored Kvasnicka. That make it 13-4.
Following the three-run third inning Coe pitched extremely well over the next three innings. He gave up a lone single over the next three innings, but that runner was wiped out by a double-play. It was a performance that impressed his manager.
“Ya, he got in a little trouble with walks early on but, I’ll tell you what, he really turned it around and after the big third inning pitched his game. He showed a lot of toughness out there.”
Coe’s run finally came to an end in the seventh inning when Ottawa scored a run. Albert Cartwright doubled to lead off the inning and moved to second on a ground out. Boucher then grounded out, scoring Cartwright to make it 13-5.
An eight-run lead was still plenty enough support to back the performance of Coe, but Gac wanted to make sure that he added an exclamation point to the winning line. In the bottom of the seventh he drilled a 3-1 pitch to dead center field that cleared the wall for his seventh home run of the season. It was the first baseman’s fourth home run over the last five games.
Dylan Chavez and Chris Peacock each pitched a perfect inning to close out the game. Chavez struck out one and Peacock two.
Coe moved to 4-1 on the season. He pitched 7 innings, allowing 8 hits, 3 walks and 5 runs. Tobik took the loss.
It was quite an offensive showcase as the St. Paul Saints, who rapped out 17-hits. Harris had an especially big night, going 4-6 with 2 runs and 4 RBI. Kvasnicka also chipped in 4 hits, scored 3 runs and drove in another. He had 2 doubles. Kaczrowski was 3-5 with 2 runs and 2 RBI.
By Robert Pannier