Tony Thomas Leads Game 2 Comeback to Give Saints DH Split
Game 1 of Sunday’s twin bill was a continuation of Saturday night’s affair. The T-Bones and Saints were tied at three after four and a half innings when the rain came pouring down and had no intention of letting up. John Straka had started for St. Paul and was opposed by David Holman for Kansas City. Both pitchers struggled in the first inning.
In the top of the first, Breland Almadova singled with one out and came around to score when Nate Hanson drilled a double down the left field line and into the corner. Angelo Songco followed with a single that scored Hanson and it was quickly 2-0 St. Paul.
Straka could not hold the lead, however, and would actually leave the frame trailing. Starlin Rodriguez and Tyler Massey began the inning with back-to-back singles. Straka struck out Jake Blackwood before getting Anthony Gallas to fly out for the second out of the inning. It looked like he may escape the frame unscathed, but a clutch double by Vladimir Frias scored both runners to tie the score. A single by Brett Wiley kept the inning alive and Jimmy Mojica gave the T-Bones the lead with an RBI-single.
In the top of the third, St. Paul tied the score. Hanson started the inning with a single and moved to second on a single by Songco. Holman had his own moment where he looked like he would escape, getting the next two batters out, but a Tony Caldwell single plated Hanson to tie the game at three.
Both pitchers settled down and it looked like it was going to be a good pitchers duel from there, but rain forced the game to be suspended heading into the bottom half of the fifth.
Benji Waite took over for the Saints when play resumed, and found himself in a little trouble when he gave up a leadoff double to Rodriguez. However, Massey followed by grounding to short and Rodriguez made a poor decision running for third. He was thrown out on the fielder’s choice and Kansas City seemed to have squandered an opportunity.
In the top of the sixth, the Saints had their own base running mistake that cost the team. The Saints catcher was hit by a pitch to start the inning and moved to third on a double by Chad Christensen. As he rounded third, he was held. Frias caught Caldwell too far off as he rounded third and he was picked off.
In the bottom half of the inning Kansas City took a lead they would not relinquish. Wiley doubled to get it started and scored when Dalton Wheat singled two batters later. That made the score 4-3.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Kansas City T-Bones extended their lead. A single by Massey to start the inning was followed by a Blackwood walk. A passed ball moved both runners up and they both scored on a single by Frias. That made it 6-3, which is how the game would end.
The T-Bones bullpen was dominant. John Kovalik (1-0) earned the victory with a scoreless inning. Mark Haynes pitched the final 1.2-innings to earn his sixth save of the year. Waite (1-1) took the loss.
Frias swung the big bat for Kansas City. He was 2-4 with a run and 4-RBI. Mojica was 3-4 with a run driven in. Songco and Almadova each had 2-hits for St. Paul.
The regularly scheduled game was a wild affair that saw the Kansas City T-Bones battle back from three down to take the lead in the bottom of the fifth, only to see the Saints retake the lead in the top of the sixth on their way to the 7-5 victory. This was a game where fielding mistakes played a huge part in the game for both sides.
The St. Paul Saints jumped out on top in the top of the first courtesy of an error. Brady Burzynski reached on an error by the Kansas City first baseman to start the contest, and two batters later Nate Hanson singled to put two on with one out. A single by Tony Thomas scored Burzynski to give St. Paul the lead. Hanson tried to score on the play as well, but the throw to the plate by Tyler Massey nailed Hanson for the second out and keep it 1-0. Next up was Alonzo Harris who ripped a single into left field. Angelo Songco, who had walked following the Hanson single, tried to score on the play, but Rodriguez made a great throw to home for the third out. It was an exciting set of back-to-back defensive plays.
In the bottom of the second, the T-Bones tied the score. Brett Wiley singled with one out and moved to third on a double by Jimmy Mojica. Wiley scored on a sacrifice fly by Wheat to tie the game at one.
In the top of the fourth, the St. Paul Saints would retake the lead. Thomas led off the inning with a double and moved to third on a Harris single. Harris then stole second, and Thomas came home on a sacrifice fly by Christensen. The next batter was Maxx Garrett, who drilled an 0-1 pitch for a homerun over the left field wall to make it 4-1.
Saints starter Alec Crawford had looked sharp since giving up the run, but in the fifth he found himself in some trouble. The righty walked the first two batters of the inning and he was pulled. Caleb Thielbar came on but could not stop the momentum.
Tyler Moore singled to load the bases and Rodriguez followed by grounding into a fielder’s choice that scored Mojica. Massey then walked to load the bases, and Blackwood followed with an at-bat for the ages, fouling off four pitches to stay alive before singling to make it a one-run game. Two batters later, Frias singled to score Rodriguez to tie the score at four. Wiley’s single gave Kansas City the lead, their first of the game.
The Saints responded right away in the top of the sixth and it was a huge error that got the rally started. Christensen reached on an error and Garrett followed with a walk. Sam Maus laid down a perfect bunt that moved both runners into scoring position. A single by Burzynski scored Christensen and Almadova hit into a fielder’s choice that plated the other runner. That gave St. Paul back the lead at 6-5.
In the top of the seventh, the Saints got an insurance run, courtesy of Tony Thomas. The St. Paul shortstop fell behind o-2, then drilled the next pitch deep over the left field wall for his 10th homer of the year. That made it 7-5 and that is how it would end.
Ryan Rodebaugh came on in the seventh and struck out the final batter of the game for his 11th save of the season. Thielbar (3-1) earned the win.
Thomas finished a perfect 3-3 with 2-runs and 2-RBI. Garrett finished 1-2 with 2-runs and 2-RBI. Wiley was 2-3 with a run and an RBI.
The St. Paul Saints return home tomorrow night to start the three-game series with the Joplin Blaster. The Kansas City T-Bones to Sioux Falls to begin a three-game series.
By Robert Pannier