St. Paul Saints Neuter RailCats in 15-2 Victory
Call it 23 and counting. Just 27 games into the 2015 American Association season the St. Paul Saints already have 23 wins. Just to give a little context; it took the Saints until July 5 last season to reach that mark, meaning they are 16 days ahead of that schedule already. On this night it was the Gary Southshore RailCats that got to feel the wrath that is the St. Paul Saints lineup, watching their pitchers give up 17-hits in a 15-2 defeat.
It was not pretty for the RailCats from the moment that Alonzo Harris stood in the batter’s box as the first St. Paul hitter of the game. Harris lined a single to left field, stole second, and moved to third on a ground out by Mitch Elliot. Willie Argo hit a sacrifice fly to deep center field which easily scored Harris, and it was 1-0 Saints.
Charlie Rosario had recorded the second out of the inning and there was no one on base. It seemed that Gary was going to move to the second only down by a run, but reality can be quite cruel when it wants to be.
Ian Gac walked and Angelo Songco followed with a single that moved Gac to second. Vince DiFazio fell behind 0-2 to Rosario but hung tough, fouling off two pitches before coming all the way back to draw the walk. Next up was Joey Paciorek, who doubled to the wall in right-center field to score both Gac and Songco to make it 3-0. Steve Nikorak followed with a single that scored both Paciorek and DiFazio to make it a five-run lead, and Anthony Phillips kept the inning alive with a single into left field.
Back came Harris to the plate. On a 1-1 pitch Rosario threw a slider that looked a bit inside, but the umpire called it a strike. Harris was not happy about the call. Visibly angered, Harris took a ball to make the count 2-2, then turned on a pitch and ripped it over the left field wall and into the picnic area for a three-run homer for his third home run of the season.
Harris admitted after the game that that home run was a bit of sweet revenge for the strike call. “I was kind of angry, and that kind of focused me in. That made it two strikes, and usually a lead-off batter chokes up on the bat trying to put the ball in play, but this became one of those times that I was just going to react, and I just stepped into it.” Harris reacted quite well for sure, and the three-run home run extended the Saints lead to 8-0.
Gary Southshore got one of those runs back against St. Paul Saints starter Pedro Hernandez in the third when Zac Mitchell singled home Ryan Brockett to make it 8-1.
Starting in the fourth inning, the Saints plated at least one run over the next four innings. In the fourth a single by Phillips and a walk to Harris put runners on first and second with no one out. Two batters later Argo hit a ball deep to left center field for a double, scoring both runners. In the fifth DiFazo walked to begin the inning and moved to send on a single by Paciorek. Two batters later Nikorak singled to load the bases and Harris delivered a sacrifice fly to score DiFazio to make it 11-1. In the sixth, Angelo Songco drilled a high fly ball to deep center that was lost in the sun and fell in for a triple. DiFazio singled him home to make it an 11-run lead.
In the top of the seventh, the RailCats got a run of their own. Stephen Rogers singled with two outs and scored on a double by Michael Schroeder. Hernandez retired the final batter to end the inning, and that would be his last inning of work for the Saints starter. The left-hander went 7 innings, allowed 7 hits, 2 walks and 2 earned runs. Hernandez (4-1) also struck out 4 in earning his fourth win of the season.
The St. Paul Saints responded to the RailCats scoring a run in the top of the seventh by scoring three of their own in the bottom half. Harris led off the inning with a single, his third hit of the game. Elliot followed with a single and Mike Schultz drew a walk to load the bases. Two batters later Songco singled to score Harris. DiFazio then delivered a base hit that brought both Elliot and Schultz home to close out the scoring, 15-2.
Four players for the Saints had three hits, including Harris who was 3-4, with 4 runs and 4 RBI. The Saints center fielder has delivered 7 hits in 8 at-bats over his last two games, plus he has walked two additional times.
DiFazio extended his hitting streak to eight games by going 2-3 with 2 runs and 3 RBI. He also walked twice. During the streak the St. Paul catcher is 20-36 (.555) with 9 runs and 15 RBI. That includes three home runs as well.
Songco, Paciorek, and Phillips also added three hits apiece.
By Robert Pannier