Allen, Young Lead Saints to Opening Victory, 12-3
The St. Paul Saints opened the 2019 American Association Championship series by scoring runs in each of the first six innings on their way to a 12-3 victory over the Sioux City Explorers. Josh Allen and Chesny Young combined to go 8-8 with four runs driven in and three runs scored as every player in the Saints starting lineup had at least one hit.
The St. Paul Saints would jump out in front in the top of the first. Eric Karch retired the first batter he faced, but Michael Lang would come back to haunt his old team with a triple down the line in right. Brady Shoemaker followed with a sacrifice fly and the Saints led 1-0.
In the second, St. Paul extended their lead to two. Jeremey Martinez walked to start the inning and Josh Allen followed with a base hit. A sacrifice moved both runners into scoring position and Martinez came home on a sacrifice by Chris Baker.
The Explorers looked like they would get at least one of those runs right back in the bottom of the inning. Landon Beck walked the leadoff batter and Dylan Kelly would draw a walk two batters later. Beck struck out Sebastian Zawada, but walked Adam Sasser to load the bases. That brought Kyle Wren to the plate with a chance to at least cut the deficit in half, but he hit a fly ball into shallow left field to end the inning and Sioux City came away empty handed.
In the third, the St. Paul Saints blew this game open. Dan Motl led off with a double and Lang followed by beating out a ground ball for a base hit, moving Motl to third. Shoemaker then hit into a fielder’s choice, scoring Motl to extend the lead to three. Next up was John Silviano, who singled into right, sending Shoemaker to third, and he came home on a base hit by Martinez. After Allen singled to load the bases, Young walked to drive home the third run of the inning and the rout was on.
The Saints added another run in the top of fourth on a sacrifice fly by John Silviano. Sioux City finally got on the board in the bottom half of the frame. A walk and a hit by pitch started the inning, but it looked like Beck would get out of the inning when he got back-to-back popups. However, Wren kept the inning alive with a single and Drew Stankiewicz walked to drive home Kelly to make it 5-1. The Explorers were on the board, but would leave the bases loaded once again when Nate Samson flew out to center to end the threat.
The Saints would continue to put up runs. In the top of the fifth, a Baker ground out scored Allen to restore the five run lead. St. Paul then added four more runs in the top of the sixth. Allen and Young each drove in a run with singles and Blake Schmit drove home two more with a base hit into center.
In the seventh, Juan Aguilera came on and would be the first Explorers pitcher to retire the Saints in order. His team responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning when Zawada reached on an error with the bases loaded, allowing two runs to score. St. Paul added one more run in the top of the eighth on an RBI single by Young to finish off the 12-3 Saints victory.
Josh Allen finished a perfect 5-5 with three runs and an RBI. Chesny Young was 3-3 with three RBI and Chris Baker drove in two runs. In all, the bottom third of the Saints lineup drove in seven runs.
Game 2 will be back in Sioux City on Thursday night. The Saints will send ace Eddie Medina (10-3, 3.45) to the hill. He will be opposed by Pete Tago (6-3, 3.16). First pitch is scheduled for 7:12.
By Robert Pannier