Seven-Run First Powers St. Paul Saints to 12-6 Victory
The All-Star break surely did not slow down the St. Paul Saints bats at all. The club came out swinging, scoring seven-runs in the first frame to power the club to a 12-6 victory over the RailCats.
Andy Roberts started for Gary and found himself unable to get out of the first inning. Alonzo Harris opened the game with a triple to the wall, and scored when Willie Argo grounded out. Vinny DiFazio followed with a single and he moved to second when Ian Gac was walked. That brought Angelo Songco to the plate who drilled a double to the wall that scored DiFazio to make it 2-0. Mike Kvasnicka’s single brought both runners home and the St. Paul Saints lead was four.
The two first inning RBI gave Kvasnicka a string of five straight game with at least one run driven in. He has plated 12 runners during that span.
Anthony Phillips singled following the Kvansnicka hit, and Ryan Lashley doubled to bring home another run. Roberts struck out Dan Kaczrowski for the second out, but Harris continued the inning by singling to center to score Lashley and Phillips. Willie Argo walked, and that would be it for Roberts.
The RailCats starter lasted two-thirds of an inning, allowing 7 hits and 7 runs, 6 of which were earned. He also walked 2 and struck out 1.
Rene Solis relieved and ended the threat, however the St. Paul Saints had sent 11 men to the plate and had seven runs. Plenty enough support for Pedro Hernandez.
The Gary Southshore RailCats were down, but these ‘Cats know how to claw their way back into a game. J.D. Pulfer led off the bottom of the first with a single and moved to third on a base hit by Jon Jones. Jamie Del Valle was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Jose Sermo followed with a double that scored two runs. Hernandez settled down though, getting Brandon Thomas to fly to shallow left field before retiring Roger Bernal on a ground out. The first inning was quite a thriller, as the Saints left it leading 7-2.
Neither team would score in the second or third innings, but in the fourth both teams got back on the board. In the top of the fourth it was star first baseman Angelo Songco that delivered the big hit. DiFazio doubled to begin the frame, and Joey Paciorek, who had replaced Gac, singled to put runners at the corners with no one out. Solis next faced Songco, who took a first pitch ball, then launched one over the right field fence to make it 10-2 game. For Songco it was his 10th home run of the season, and increased his RBI total to 52.
In the home half of the fourth the RailCats got two of those runs back. Thomas singled to begin the inning and Bernal followed by drawing a walk. Two hitters later Ryan Brockett doubled to plate both runs and make it a 10-4 game.
In the seventh Gary would make it quite interesting. Drew Gay took over for Hernandez and retired the first two hitters of the inning, but Drew Martinez kept the inning alive with a single and moved to third on a double by Jones. Del Valle followed with a double of his own, scoring both runners and pulling the RailCats within four.
The crowd was sensing they had a chance to see their team battle back, but the St. Paul Saints did what they do best – respond. In the top half of the eighth they put up two more runs to put the game away.
Matt Solter retired the first two hitters of the inning, but the bottom of the order came up with clutch hits to keep the inning going. Phillips walked and Lashley followed with a double that scored the Saints shortstop all the way from first. A wild pitch moved Lashley to third, and Kaczrowski drove him home with a base hit. That made the score 12-6 which is how it would end.
Several St. Paul Saints were hitting stars on this day, but none bigger than Songco. He finished 3-5 with a run scored and 4 RBI. Kvasnicka was 1-5 with a run and 2 RBI. Phillips, Lashley and Kaczrowski each had two hits and Phillips also drew two walks. Harris was 3-6 with a run scored and an RBI. The Saints center fielder has driven in 15 runs over his last 10 games.
Hernandez (6-2) was the winner. The lefty went 6 innings, allowing 6 hits, 4 runs and a walk. He struck out 3 and extended his unbeaten streak for starts to six.
By Robert Pannier