Saints Down RedHawks, Clinch Playoff Berth, 4-3
The St. Paul Saints wouldn’t have it any other way. They trailed early. The first 13 men didn’t reach base. They were no-hit through five innings. Then a comeback. And finally, the team that set the American Association record for one run games and one-run wins, carried a one-run lead in the ninth. The tying and go ahead runs were aboard with one out. The 2019 version of the Saints just find ways to win in every way imaginable. On Friday night in front of 9,676 at CHS Field the Saints got their biggest win of the season, 4-3 over the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, that sent them to the playoffs for the fourth time in the last five seasons where they will meet the RedHawks. The Saints lead the North Division by 1.0 game over the RedHawks with three games to play. The win improves the Saints to 62-35. The 62 wins is the second most in franchise history.
With the Saints leading 4-3 in the ninth inning, Karch Kowalczyk got leadoff hitter Brennan Metzger to ground back to the mound for out number one. Kowalczyk then walked Tim Colwell and Devan Ahart roped a single to right-center that sent Colwell to third. Up stepped Chris Jacobs, who entered the game hitting .305 with 17 home runs. He swung at the first pitch, an inside fastball, and hit a slow roller to short that Chris Baker charged and threw to second for the out. Second baseman Josh Allen then whipped a throw to first as John Silviano dragged his toe across the first base bag for the game ending double play. The Saints entered the game having turned the fourth fewest double plays in the league while the RedHawks hit into the fifth fewest.
The RedHawks jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second when Correlle Prime hit a solo homer to right, his 18th of the season.
Meanwhile, the Saints couldn’t muster anything offensively as RedHawks starter Michael Tamburino retired the first 13 men he faced until a one out walk to Jeremy Martinez in the fifth.
In the top of the sixth the RedHawks added to their lead when Devan Ahart led off with a single and Jacobs sent him to second with a single to right. Saints starter Landon Beck departed for Mike Devine. He got Prime to ground into a double play that left Ahart at third with two outs. Leo Pina, however, would rope an RBI single to left giving the RedHawks a 2-0 lead.
The no-hit bid ended for Tamburino in the sixth when Chesny Young grounded a single past the diving third baseman Joe Becht. Chris Baker followed with a single to right putting runners at first and second. Blake Schmit then dropped a bunt down to the first base side that Tamburino fielded, but his throw to first went wide and into foul territory. Young raced around to score as Baker headed to third and the Saints had runners at the corners with nobody out. With one out Brady Shoemaker tied the game with a sacrifice fly. A walk to John Silviano put runners at first and second. Martinez gave the Saints their first lead with an RBI single to left making it 3-2. Tamburino left the game for Sebastian Kessay and the first man he faced was Josh Allen who roped an RBI double to left-center putting the Saints up 4-2.
The RedHawks got to within one in the eighth when Jacobs walked with one out and Prime singled him to second. That’s when Kowalczyk took over for Devine. A wild pitch moved the runners up to second and third and Leo Pina was hit by a pitch to load the bases. After a strikeout of Alex Boxwell, Brian Olson’s slow grounder to third was fielded by Young, but slipped out of his glove as he was getting ready to throw it and the error allowed Jacobs to score making it 4-3. Kowalczyk got out of the inning by getting Becht to ground into a fielder’s choice.
The Saints finish the regular season with a three-game series at Impact Field against the Chicago Dogs beginning Friday night at 7:05 p.m. The Saints send RHP Eddie Medina (10-2, 3.11) against Dogs RHP Carlos Zambrano (3-1, 5.14). The game can be heard on KFAN Plus, 96.7 FM.
By Sean Aronson