Vinny DiFazio, Jeff Shields Send St. Paul Saints to Win No. 43
Looking to rebound from a tough loss Sunday night, the St. Paul Saints got an All-Star performance out of their battery Monday night. Jeff Shields remained undefeated, winning his ninth game of the season, and Vinny DiFazio had a perfect night at the plate as the Saints won 12-6.
Shields faced off against Anthony Smith for Winnipeg, and both looked quite good through the first two frames. Each gave up a single in the first inning, then retired the side in order in the second. In the third both teams finally broke through offensively.
In the top half of the inning, Chris Robinson started the frame with a double and moved to third on a ground out by Luis Alen. Adam Heisler delivered a sacrifice fly to center field to score Robinson and the Winnipeg Goldeyes were on top.
The lead did not last long. Smith retired the first two hitters of the inning, then gave up back-to-back singles to Alonzo Harris and Willie Argo. Vinny DiFazio ripped a drive to center field that Reggie Abercrombie seemed to have a bead on, but it hit off his glove and in for a double scoring both runners to give the Saints the lead.
In the top of the fourth the Goldeyes looked like they were about to retake the lead. Casey Haerther beat out an infield single and Abercrombie walked to put two on with no one out. Brad Boyer then hit one that rolled about 15 feet from home plate, but no one had a play and the bases were loaded. This had catastrophe written all over it, but Shields showed why he is undefeated this season. Josh Mazzola flew out to shallow center field for the first out, and Nic Jackson followed by ripping a Shields pitch up the middle, but Dan Kaczrowski made the catch on the line drive and threw to Anthony Phillips for the double-play.
After the game, St. Paul Saints manager George Tsamis talked about how that play changed the momentum of the contest. “That was the play of the game. Nic Jackson hit it hard, but right at someone, and we get a double-play out of it. That could have been a big inning for them, but we get out of it without giving up a run, and then get a big rally of our own.”
The big play by Kaczrowski seemed to fire up the Saints. In the bottom half of the inning Joey Paciorek lined a single with one out and Phillips grounder to short was dropped by the second baseman on the throw, putting two on with one out. Ryan Lashley followed with a double down the line that scored both runners and the Saints had a 4-1 lead. Kaczrowski’s single moved Lashley to third, and Harris brought him home with a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to four.
In the fifth the Saints added two more runs. DiFazio was hit by a pitch and scored when Angelo Songco ripped a Smith offering to the wall for a double. Two batters later Paciorek singled into right center field to score Songco and it was 7-1.
In the top of the sixth the Winnipeg Goldeyes were able to get a run back. Mazzola’s single scored Haerther to make it 7-2, but DiFazio singled in the bottom half of the inning to score Argo and extend the lead back to six.
In the seventh the St. Paul Saints blew the game open. Mike Kvasnicka started the rally with a double and scored when Phillips singled. Back-to-back base hits by Lashley and Kaczrowski loaded the bases, and Harris grounded into a fielder’s choice that cut down Lashley at third, but scored Phillips. Argo then ripped a double over the left fielder’s head that scored Kaczrowski, and DiFazio singled to center field to score Harris to make it 12-2.
Winnipeg added a run in the eighth on an RBI-groundout by Abercrombie. In the ninth they added three more runs. Back-to-back RBI singles by Alen and Heisler scored Mazzola and Robinson. Ryan Babineau singled to score Alen to make it 12-6.
Shields (9-0) was pulled after 6 innings due to a mild strain in his side. He allowed 7 hits, a walk and 2 earned runs, while striking out 4. It was his 10th win in a row. Smith took the loss to drop to 3-2.
DiFazio finished 4-4 with a run scored and 4 RBI. The Saints catcher is now hitting .383. Lashley added 2 hits, a run and 2 RBI in 4 at-bats. Paciorek and Argo each had two hits, with Agro scoring two runs and driving in another, and Paciorek adding a run and an RBI. Robinson went 3-4 for Winnipeg.
By Robert Pannier