St. Paul Saints Fall in 12th to Winnipeg Goldeyes: Saints Summary
In a marathon affair that went 12 innings and saw two late Saints comebacks, covering four hours and 21 minutes, St. Paul finally ran out of tricks in their bag and fell to the North Division Champions 10-6. The loss was the second longest game of the season for the Saints, and brought the countdown to games left at Midway Stadium down to two.
St. Paul started right-hander Drew Gay who found himself in trouble from the very start of the game. After striking out lead-off man Brock Bond, Gay gave up a single to Jake Blackwood and a double to Tyler Kuhn to put runners at second and third with just one out. Casey Haerther then followed with a single to score Blackwood, and four hitters into the game the Saints were trailing 1-0. A wild pitch would bring Kuhn scurrying home, and one batter later Haerther scored on an error by the first baseman when he misplayed a pick-off attempt. This was the first of four Saints errors on the day.
Down 3-0, the Saints did manage to get on the board when they loaded the bases with no one out. Mitch Elliot walked to lead-off the game for the Saints, and Evan Bigley and Willie Cabrera followed with singles to load the bases. Chris Salamida looked like he was going to get out of the inning without giving up a run however. He struck out Joe Bonfe and Jake Taylor back-to-back, but Vinny DiFazio got St. Paul on the board when he singled off the glove of Blackwood scoring Elliot. That was all the Saints could muster, however, and they were down 3-1 after one inning of play.
Gay and Salamida would both cruise through the next four innings. Gay gave up a hit in each of the innings, but he kept the Goldeyes off of the scoreboard and kept his team in the game. The Winnipeg lefty was equally as impressive during that stretch, yielding two hits while fanning four.
In the top of the sixth the Goldeyes got on the board again. A single by Luis Alen led off the inning. He would advance to second on a sacrifice, and to third on a ground out, bringing Blackwood to the plate. The third baseman worked the count full before delivering a clutch single to right field that restored the three-run lead.
The Saints were not done by any stretch of the imagination however. In the bottom of the third the first three hitters reached on singles, scoring Jake Taylor. Joey Becker then laid down a bunt to move the runners to second and third before Carlos Escobar walked. Mitch Elliot followed with a sharp single to right field that scored DiFazio and left the bases loaded. That would be it for Salamida. The lefty had dominated the game to that point, but the rally ended his day.
Taylor Sewitt relieved and on the first pitch got Evan Bigley to fly to right field. The ball was caught by Josh Mazzola and Tyler Peterson decided to test the arm of Mazzola. He lost. A perfect strike arrived to Alen about two seconds before the Saints runner arrived, nabbing him and ending the inning. The Saints were within one run though.
That is where they would stay until the bottom of the ninth inning. Evan Bigley led off the inning with a single, and after Willie Cabrera struck out, Bigley stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Bigley then scored on a single by Joe Bonfe to tie the game. Taylor followed Bonfe with a walk, and it looked like the Saints might come away with the walk-off win. Vinny DiFazio took the first pitch from Brendan Lafferty and crushed it, but Blackwood made a nice play at third to catch the line drive and fired to second to record the double play.
In the 10th Winnipeg got back on top. Matt Meyer took over on the mound. Josh Mazzola worked the count full before walking, and moved to second on a sacrifice by Alen. Ryan Pineda drew a full count walk as well, but on the walk, Meyer’s pitch got away from catcher DiFazio to let Mazzola get to third. Bond then hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Mazzola, and the Goldeyes were three outs away from the victory. Three outs wound up being two too many.
Gabe Aguilar took over for the Goldeyes. Peterson hit a shot that Kuhn bobbled at short, and allowed him to reach base. Joey Becker attempted to sacrifice Peterson to second, but Alen leapt out from behind the plate and fired to short to cut Peterson down. With Becker at first, Devin Thaut dropped a bloop single into shallow left-center field. Angelo Songco pinch-hit and singled to score Becker and the game was tied again.
Drew Ghelfi relieved in the 11th and pitched a perfect 1-2-3 inning. Barry Fowler pitched in the bottom half of the inning, and after hitting Bonfe, he got a fielder’s choice and a double-play to send the game to the 12th.
In the 12th it all went bad for the Saints and for Ghelfi. Ghelfi started out well, striking out Webb to begin the inning, but then the inning went south quickly. Mazzola singled and Alen followed with a double that scored Mazzola. Pineda grounded to third keeping Alen at second. Bond then reached on a walk, and he and Alen scored when Blackwood hit a ball that Bonfe just could not reach, but the ball reached the wall for two more runs. With Ghelfi laboring, Tyler Kuhn singled bringing home Blackwood. It looked as if Ghelfi may get out of the inning without any further damage when Haerther hit a ball to third, but Bonfe misplayed the ball for another error and the inning was kept alive. Abercrombie followed with a double to score Kuhn, and the Goldeyes were up 10-5.
The Saints would not go down quietly however. The first three batters of the inning all reached base, and it looked like the Saints had every intention of extending the game to another inning, if not pulling out the walk-off win, however it was not meant to be. Songco struck out for the first out, Bigley then hit a sacrifice fly and Keith Brachold grounded to third to end the game.
The final score was 10-6, although the score was not a true indication of how close the game was. The Saints made two valiant comebacks against the best bullpen in the league, and showed that they may not be going to playoffs, but they have what it takes to compete against a playoff team.
Fowler won his first game of the year, and Ghelfi dropped his first decision. Several Goldeyes players had big nights at the plate, but Alen and Blackwood had especially big nights. Alen was 4-4 with two runs and an RBI, while Blackwood was 3-7, with two runs and three RBI. Joey Becker had the big stick for the Saints, going 3-5 with a run.
The two teams will face each other in the second game of this series on Wednesday night. Justin Klipp makes his second start for St. Paul. He will face Ryan Bollinger for Winnipeg.
By Robert Pannier
Senior Baseball Editor
Member of the IBWAA