Almadova’s Speed, Power Back Hamburger in Saints 7-5 Win
The St. Paul Saints entered Wednesday afternoon’s affair looking to break a three-game losing streak. The team had not led in a game since defeating the Winnipeg Goldeyes on a walk-off wild pitch four days ago, and were looking for a spark. Breland Almadova provided just that, hitting a homerun and stealing home to help pace Mark Hamburger to win his American Association leading seventh game of the year.
The problem for the Saints of late had been falling behind early. They had trailed early in every one of their last four-games, but Hamburger was on his game from the start. The right-hander allowed just two hits through the first four frames, both to Blake Schmit.
While Hamburger was keeping the Sioux Falls Canaries batters at bay, the hitters were staking him to a 5-0 lead through four. In the top of the first, Alonzo Harris led off the inning with a single and promptly stole second and third, giving him 17 on the season. A walk to Nate Hanson and hit by pitch of Angelo Songco loaded the bases with one out. Tony Thomas followed with a sacrifice fly to score Harris and give the St. Paul Saints the 1-0 lead.
In the third they would extend the lead to four. Almadova led off the inning, and went the other way down the line for a solo homerun, his fourth of the season. Back-to-back walks to Hanson and Songco followed, and Thomas singled to score Hanson to extend the lead to three. Songco scored when Willie Argo reached on an error and it was 4-0. The Saints sent nine men to the plate in the inning, scoring three and stranding three.
In the top of the fourth, the St. Paul Saints added another run, and it was Almadova using his legs that led to the run. The Saints right fielder led off with a drive to the wall in right-center. He ran hard out of the box and legged it all the way in for a triple. With Hanson at the plate, Almadova stole home on a controversial call, but looked to make a slick move as he was sliding home to avoid the tag. That made it 5-0.
Hamburger pitched extremely well through the first four innings, but the Canaries were finally able to get on the board in bottom of the fifth. Ryan Lashley singled against his former team to start the inning. Ethan Chapman then hit a nubber down the first line that Songco grabbed and attempted to tag Chapman out. However, he knocked the ball out of the first baseman’s glove for an error and a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position. Nolan Johnson followed with a single up the middle that scored both runners to make it 5-2.
The Saints responded with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. Tony Caldwell doubled with one out and moved to third on a single by Maxx Garrett. The Canaries pitcher attempted to pick off Garrett, but the first baseman dropped the ball and it rolled away. That allowed Garrett to move to third and Caldwell to score. A single by Sam Maus moved Garrett to third and Harris drove him home with a sacrifice fly.
In the eighth the Canaries would cut into the deficit. Jake Taylor reached on an error and moved to third on a double by David Bergin. That would be the end to the St. Paul starter’s day.
Hamburger (7-0) remained undefeated and remains atop the wins list in the American Association. He pitched 7+ innings, allowing 8-hits, no walks and 4-runs, only one of which was earned. He also struck out 4.
Caleb Thielbar took over for the starter. He gave up a ground out that scored Taylor and a base hit to Lashley to bring home Bergin. That made the score 7-4.
In the ninth the Saints turned to closer Ryan Rodebaugh. They got a one out hit from Schmit and a two-out walk to Taylor, but he struck out Bergin to end the game. That was Rodebaugh’s ninth save of the season.
Almadova finished 2-5 with 2-runs and an RBI. He stole his 13th base of the year. Thomas drove in two. Schmit finished 4-5 and Lashley was 2-4 with a run and an RBI.
The final game of the series is tomorrow at 7:05. Neither team has named their starter.
By Robert Pannier