Schmit Walk-Off Hit Forces Game 5, Saints Win, 1-0
With their backs against the wall for the second straight night, the St. Paul Saints would pull out another dramatic late inning victory to down the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, this time 1-0. Blake Schmit’s walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth gave the Saints the victory, staving off a second straight elimination game to tie the series at two. The Saints pitching staff allowed just three hits.
Ryan Zimmerman started for the St. Paul Saints looking to keep his team’s season alive, and he delivered his best performance of the season. The Saints right-hander retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced, with a leadoff single to Chris Jacobs in the top of the second as the only blemish against him.
Bret Helton got the start for the RedHawks, and it looked like St. Paul would jump out in front in the bottom of the second. Jeremy Martinez led off the inning with a base hit and two batters later Chesny Young walked to put two on with one down. However, Helton was able to get a pop out and a ground out to end the threat.
In the fifth, the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks tried to put a rally together against the Saints right-hander, the only inning he was challenged in the game. After retiring the first two batters of the inning, Carlos Garcia reached on a walk before Joe Becht doubled into right field. Garcia was forced to hold at third, and that proved to be huge as Zimmerman would strand both when he struck out Brennan Metzger to end the threat.
Defensive gems helped to keep this a scoreless tie through the first six innings of the ballgame. In the fifth, Chesny Young led off with a walk and Chris Baker attempted to move him to second with a sacrifice. However, RedHawks catcher Wilfredo Gimenez leapt out from behind home plate, pouncing on the ball and firing a strike to second to throw out Young.
In the seventh, Gimenez hit a sinking line drive to center that Dan Motl came in on and made a diving catch to deny the hit.
Helton came out after six, tossing a gem. He allowed three hits and four walks while striking out two.
In the bottom of the seventh, Joe Filomeno came on for the RedHawks and the St. Paul Saints looked like they were going to jump out in front. After Young struck out, Filomeno struck out Baker as well, but the ball got away from Gimenez allowing him to reach first. Blake Schmit followed with a base hit up the middle, and both runners moved up on a wild pitch. That brought Motl to the plate, who hit a hard grounder to third, but neither runner was able to advance as Motl was thrown out at first for the second out of the inning. Next up was Michael Lang, who quickly fell behind 1-2, before fouling off three pitches to stay alive, working the count full. However, Filomeno would catch Lang looking for the strike out to end the inning.
Ryan Zimmerman had been brilliant through the first seven innings, and would return for the eighth. He struck out Garcia to start the frame, and that would be it for the right-hander. The Saints starter set a single-season high with 10 strikeouts, allowing just three hits and two walks in 7.1 innings before his night was over. Of his 118 pitches, 74 went for strikes.
Ken Frosch would take over for Zimmerman. He struck out Becht before Metzger was able to draw a walk. Tim Colwell flew out to end the inning. Filomeno came back out for the bottom of the eighth and retired the Saints in order.
In the ninth, the Saints sent out closer Tanner Kiest and he retired he Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks in order. That set up the dramatic bottom
J.R. Bunda came on for the RedHawks and Josh Allen greeted him with a walk. He moved to second on a sacrifice by Young. Baker then grounded to short, allowing Allen to reach third. That brought Schmit to the plate, who hit a slow roller down the third base line. Becht charged but his throw could not get the speedy Schmit, allowing Allen to score the winning run.
Kiest earned the victory with a scoreless inning of relief. The Saints staff struck out 12 RedHawks. Blake Schmit finished with two hits and the lone RBI of the night.
Game 5 will be tomorrow night in St. Paul. Left-hander Chris Lee (0-1, 2.46) will go for St. Paul. He will be opposed by Ryan Williams (1-0, 1.50). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier
Featured image by Capture Twin Cities