Sam Maus Leads Offense as St. Paul Saints, Eric Veglahn Win 8-1
Sam Maus may have been struggling lately, entering Thursday night’s contest in a 1-15 slump. However, he put together an impressive performance against the Sioux Falls Canaries, tripling in two to give the St. Paul Saints the early lead, and adding an RBI later in the contest in the team’s 8-1 victory. That gave starter Eric Veglahn his second win in as many starts to even his record.
The Sioux Falls Canaries had not scored in either of the first two games of this series. That was not going to be the case on this night as Blake Schmit drilled his fourth homerun of the season on the third pitch of the game to give the Canaries a 1-0 lead.
It would remain that way through the first, but in the bottom of the second the Saints took the lead. Alonzo Harris beat out a ground ball for a single, then stole second and third to reach 26 stolen bases for the season. Tony Thomas grounded out to drive in Harris and the game was tied. Nate Hanson and Willie Argo followed with back-to-back singles and there was still only one out. A strike out gave Sioux Falls pitcher Joe Bircher his second out of the inning and Maus coming to the plate. He fell behind 1-2, but then drilled a triple to the wall in center that he legged out for a triple. Both runners scored easily and St. Paul was up 3-1.
In the fourth the Saints extended their lead, and it was Maus that came up big again. Argo doubled to left with one out and Tony Caldwell singled to move Argo to third. Next up was Maus, who beat out a grounder to first for a hit. That scored Argo to make it 4-1.
Following the first inning run Veglahn looked quite impressive. He retired the next eight hitters following the homerun, seeing it end when Schmit singled with two outs in the third. A base hit would follow, but the left-hander got Jake Taylor to foul out to end the inning. In the fourth he gave up a lead-off single and a one-out walk to put two on with one out. Again, Veglahn remained poised, getting a fly ball before striking out the final batter of the inning to keep it 4-1. He gave up a single and a walk in the fifth, but once again recorded the final out to keep the Canaries off the scoreboard.
Veglahn (2-2) allowed 5-hits, 2-walks, and an earned run in 5-innings of work. The Saints starter struck out 4.
Mike Strong came on in the sixth and pitched brilliantly. He allowed two walks in his two-innings of work. Caleb Thielbar pitched a perfect eighth inning, and Ryan Rodebaugh struck out the side in the ninth to finish off the game.
The one-run allowed was the only run that the St. Paul Saints gave up in the three-game series. In fact, the Canaries only led in the series for two total innings. It was a completely dominating performance by the Saints.
While the staff was looking brilliant, the offense would blow the game open in the bottom of the eighth. James Jones took over for Bircher, but he was no relief for Sioux Falls. Hanson and Brady Burzynski walked to start the inning. A wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position and Tony Caldwell singled to center to score Hanson. Jones retired the next two hitters, but Tanner Vavra delivered a single to center to score two more runs to make it 7-1. A single by Harris brought home Vavra to make it a seven-run lead.
Maus finished 2-3 with 3-RBI and a walk. Argo was a perfect 2-2 with 2-runs scored. Caldwell went 3-4 with a run and an RBI. Schmit was 3-4 with a run and an RBI for Sioux Falls.
The St. Paul Saints welcome the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks for a three-game series starting Friday night. Mark Hamburger (9-0, 2.59) will be going for his 10th win of the season. Will Solomon (2-1, 2.03) gets the start for Fargo-Moorhead. Game time is 7:05.
By Robert Pannier