St. Paul Saints Come Up Short in 9-7 Loss to Lincoln: Saints Summary
The St. Paul Saints made several trades that basically told fans and players that this season is over, and that they were preparing to enter next season in a new park with a new focus on winning. It is a good and totally understandable direction for the team to take. The problem has been that the players didn’t seem to get that memo. They won two of the first three games of this series against the Lincoln Saltdogs, and mounted a furious comeback to take the lead in this game before finally falling 9-7.
Clearly this is not what Lincoln envisioned when they saw the Saints on the schedule. The Saltdogs came into the series a half-game behind the Gary Southshore RailCats in the Central Division, and had to be feeling like the Saints were there to basically roll over for the Nebraskan team. After all, St. Paul entered the five-game series as losers of 11 of 12, and had looked rather sluggish the last month in all facets of the game. This was the chance for Lincoln to get back on track after being crushed in a three-game sweep at Wichita.
While this may have seemed like the perfect scenario, especially after the Saints traded away Henry Wrigley and Dan Sattler, the Saints have been anything but pushovers, pushing the Saltdogs to the limit in each game, winning two of the first three. Tonight they had the chance again, however they eventually succumb to Lincoln and fell 9-7.
The Saltdogs got off to the start they so desperately needed. In the bottom of the first Chad Mozingo led off with a double and scored two outs later when Ian Gac hit his 22nd home run of the year for a 2-0 Saltdogs lead.
The Saints would get one of them right back in the top of the second when Joe Bonfe singled to lead off the inning, and moved to second on a passed ball. Bonfe reached third on Jake Taylor’s ground out, and on a 1-0 pitch Keith Brachold singled to bring home Bonfe.
Saints starter Ben Hughes held Lincoln scoreless in the second, but in the third he got into a lot of trouble, and eventually had to be pulled. Mozingo led off the inning with a double for the second time in the game. One out later Jon Gaston and Gac would draw back-to-back walks and the bases were loaded for Brian Joynt. Hughes first pitch to the right fielder was lined into center for a base hit scoring Mozingo and Gaston, increasing the lead to 4-1. Matt Forgatch then followed with a double, plating Gac and Joynt, and just like that the Saints were down 6-1. Hughes then hit Brandon Pinckney and walked Gilmartin before his night was over.
Dylan Thomas relieved Hughes and really came up big for St. Paul. He struck out Chris Anderson and then got Mozingo to hit into a ground out to end the inning and stop the bleeding. His effort gave the Saints the chance to get back into the game.
Kevin McGovern had cruised through the first three innings of the game, but in the fourth the Saints mounted a rally. Joe Bonfe led off the inning with a walk and advanced to third on a single by Jake Taylor. Keith Brachold was then hit by a pitch to load the bases with no one out. Joey Becker then grounded into a 6-4-3 double-play that scored Bonfe and moved Taylor to third. It looked like McGovern was going to get out of the inning without any further damage, but his first offering to Carlos Escobar was deposited over the wall for a two-run home run, and the Saints were back within two.
In the fifth the Saints would get right back at McGovern. With two outs Angelo Songco singled and Bonfe followed with a walk. Taylor then took the first offering from the Saltdogs starter and doubled to the wall to score both runners, and the game was tied.
The score remained tied until the seventh. Walks put Songco and Taylor at first and second with two outs. Keith Brachold singled on the first pitch he saw from reliever Trey Barham and the Saints were on top for the first time in the game. It was a great comeback for a team that had seen some key players dealt in the previous days, and showed how much heart they have.
The lead would not last for long unfortunately for the Saints. Thomas had been lights out since entering the game in the third, but in the seventh he wore down. He walked Gaston to lead off the inning, but got the next two batters out. Then the Saints No. 1 nemesis reared its ugly head again – the two-out rally. Forgatch singled and then Pinckney doubled scoring both Gaston and Forgatch, and the Saltdogs were back in front. Gilmartin followed with a double of his own to make the score 9-7.
The score would remain 9-7 through the eighth. In the ninth, Lincoln sent closer Marshall Schuler out to finish St. Paul off and that is exactly what he did. Schuler gave up a one out hit to Bonfe, but then got Taylor to ground into a 6-4-3 double-play to end the game. That gave Taylor his 33rd save of the season, adding another one to his single-season American Association league record.
The loss dropped St. Paul to seven behind Laredo in the Wild Card and reduced the Lemurs magic number to four to eliminate the Saints. Lincoln’s win kept them one game behind Gary for the Central Division crown with eight games left to play. The two teams will face off tomorrow with Nick Barnese facing ace Marquis Fleming (9-3).
By Robert Pannier
Senior Baseball Editor
Member of the IBWAA