Saints Bullpen Clamps Down Stockade to Give St. Paul 5-3 Victory
Since the loss of Seth Rosin and Caleb Thielbar, the St. Paul Saints have been looking for the rest of the bullpen to take charge. Saturday night that is exactly what they did as Vinny Nittoli, Ken Frosch, and Brandon Peterson combined to toss 3.2 scoreless innings of relief in the 5-3 victory over the Salina Stockade. Brady Shoemaker led the Saints offense, going 3-5 with a homer and 2-RBI, and Kes Carter and Tony Thomas each had 2-hits in the win.
Ryan Zimmerman started and kept Salina off the scoreboard in the top of the first, but the Stockade would grab the lead in the top of the second. With one down, Cody Coffman clubbed his team-leading eighth homerun of the season to put the visitors up by one.
Two innings later they would double their lead. A base hit by Coffman started with a base hit into center and he scored when Troy Paris doubled two batters later.
The Saints responded in the bottom half of the inning, tying the score. Tony Thomas lead off with a single and moved to the third when Kes Carter followed with a base hit. Maxx Garrett singled to score Thomas. Two batters later, Breeland Almadova grounded out, bringing Carter home to tie the game at two.
An inning later, St. Paul would take the lead. Brady Shoemaker lead off the inning by lining a double into right field. He moved to third on a ground out and scored when Nate Hanson singled into center to give the Saints the 3-2 lead.
Ryan Zimmerman (4-4) had pitched well for St. Paul. He went 5.1, allowing 6-hits and 2-earned runs. He struck out 4.
After Zimmerman had given up a walk in the top of the sixth, he retired the red-hot Jesse Baker. St. Paul Saints manager George Tsamis turned to his bullpen, bringing in Brandon Peterson. He retired the final two batters of the inning, preserving the one run lead.
In the bottom of the sixth, Shoemaker helped to extend that lead to three. Salina starter Brian Smith struck out the first two batters of the inning, but a walk to Mitch Delfino kept the inning alive. That brought Shoemaker to the plate, who fouled off the first pitch before drilling his 15th homer of the season over the right field wall to make it 5-2.
In the top of the seventh, Peterson retired the first two batters of the inning, but Jordan Caillouet hit his seventh home run of the season to pull the Stockade back within two. After retiring Jonathan Moroney, Tsamis turned to Ken Frosch who retired the final batter of the inning.
Frosch give up a base hit to start the eighth before striking out Coffman. Vinny Nittoli came on, yielding a single to Baker followed by a walk to Logan Trowbridge two batters later. With the bases loaded and two down, Nittoli struck out Scott Stetson to end the threat.
In the ninth, Nittoli remained in the game, retiring the side in order. He struck out two in the frame, earning him his first save of the season.
The Saints bullpen combined to go 3.2-innings, allowing 3-hits, a run and a walk while striking out 7. Brady Shoemaker finished the evening 3-5 with 2-runs and 2-RBI. Kes Carter was a perfect 2-2 with 2-walks and a run scored. Tony Thomas finished 2-4 with a run. The Salina offense was led by Cody Coffman, who was 2-3 with 2-runs and an RBI.
The final game of this three-game set is tomorrow. Mark Hamburger goes to the hill for the Saints, looking to earn his American Association leading 10th win of the season. First pitch is scheduled for 5:05.
By Robert Pannier