St. Paul Saints Bullpen Declaws RailCats Bats, 2-1
It looks like one thing is very clear about the 2017 St. Paul Saints – this bullpen is really good. A night after watching Seth Rosin strike out both batters he faced to give the Saints an opening day victory, four relievers pitched four combined scoreless innings to lead St. Paul to the 2-1 victory over the Gary Southshore RailCats.
A night after watching a great matchup between Charlie Rosario and Mark Hamburger, lefties Alex Gunn and Eric Veghlan looked equally as impressive as this was a nail-biter all game long. The RailCats got on the board in the top of the first. Chase Harris led off by drawing a walk, then stole second and moved to third on a base hit by Anthony Cheky, Jr. Frank Martinez grounded into a fielder’s choice that scored Harris and it was 1-0 Gary.
In the second, the Saints would tie the score. With one down, Tony Thomas walked and moved to second on a single by Anthony Gallas. Tony Caldwell then roped a ball off the wall in right that scored Thomas and moved Gallas to third. St. Paul had a chance to take the lead with two players in scoring position and one down, but Gunn struck out Jon Kristoffersen before getting Tanner Vavra to ground out to end the threat.
It would stay tied through the next three innings as Gunn and Veghlan both pitched brilliantly. Each team had a chance to take the lead, but the two lefties were up to the task. Gunn allowed singles that put two on with one out in the fourth, but got a fly ball out and a ground out to end the threat. Veghlan allowed two runners to reach in the fourth and fifth with one out, but got out of those innings unscathed as well.
The RailCats looked like they would take the lead in the top of the seventh when Harris grounded a double down the line in left that looked like Andy De Jesus would score all the way from first on. However, a great relay from Gallas to Kristoffersen to Caldwell nailed the runner and kept the game tied.
The Saints responded in the bottom of the seventh by taking the lead. Vavra doubled off the wall in right with one down before Danny Oh singled to put runners at the corners with one down. Breland Almadova then grounded to short, but beat the relay to first as Vavra scored and it was 2-1 Saints.
Clinging to a one-run lead, Manager George Tsamis used his bullpen brilliantly. Vinny Nittoli had pitched 1.2-innings of scoreless relief before giving way to Ken Frosch (1-0). The lefty earned the victory with an inning of scoreless relief, and Connor Little finished off the eighth to keep it a one-run lead entering the ninth. That is when Rosin came in and closed out the game, striking out two for his second save of the season.
Anthony Gallas was 2-3 for the Saints. Wilfredo Gimenez was 2-3 for Gary and Andy De Jesus was 2-4. Chase Harris was 2-3, scored a run, walked twice, and stole three bases.
Game 3 of this four-game set is tomorrow at 7:05. RHP John Straka will go for St. Paul against LHP Jeff McKenzie.
By Robert Pannier