Alonzo Harris Powers St. Paul Saints to 6-2 Victory Over RailCats
The St. Paul Saints have been looking for an offensive catalyst of late as the club’s bats were in a mini-hibernation. What better person to be that catalyst than the guy whose job it is to get rallies started. That is what Alonzo Harris has been doing of late, but on this night he was not just getting rallies started; he was getting the key hits to make their rallies fruitful.
The Saints scored six runs against the Gary Southshore RailCats Tuesday night. Harris was involved in every one of those runs and finished the day 1-4 with 2 runs and 3 RBI. He scored the first run of the game in the first, added a three-run home run in the fourth, and two more runs scored when his ground ball was thrown away by the shortstop. Amazingly, all five runs that scored off of his bat came with two outs.
The Saints center fielder got the game rolling when he walked to start the bottom of the first inning. Newcomer Ryan Cavan drew a walk as well and Vinny DiFazio followed with a single that drove home Harris to make it 1-0.
RailCats starter Travis McGee pitched well into the fourth inning, but his inability to close out that inning cost him the game. In the bottom of the fourth he issued a one out walk to Willie Argo, but retired the next batter. McGee then walked Anthony Phillips, bringing Harris to the plate. The center fielder fouled the first pitch off, then drilled a shot that narrowly cleared the wall in left field for a three-run homer. That was Harris’ fifth home run in his last nine games. He now has 14 on the season.
Reyes Dorado was making his second start for the St. Paul Saints and he pitched a gem. He walked four batters through the first four innings, but got key outs when he needed them. In the sixth Gary Southshore was finally able to score against the Saints starter.
Adam Taylor walked to begin the inning and scored on a double by Dustin Geiger. Jamie Del Valle followed with a single and that would be it for Reyes. Kevin Cravey came in and got a double-player grounder that scored Geiger before retiring the side.
McGee was pulled after four and Andy Roberts came in for the RailCats. He pitched incredibly well, allowing 3 hits and a walk over 3 innings of work. More importantly he kept St. Paul off the scoreboard, giving his team a chance to rally back.
St. Paul countered with their own bullpen heroes. Newcomer Cravey pitched two more outstanding innings of scoreless relief for the Saints. In the eighth the team turned to Mike Zouzalik, who slammed the door with a perfect inning of relief.
It looked like Ryan Rodebaugh was going to have to enter to close the game out, but a costly error in the bottom of the eighth sealed it for St. Paul. With John Kovalik on the hill Ian Gac led off with a sharp single into left field. David Espinosa followed with a deep drive that hit off the very top of the wall in right-center field. The shot was originally ruled a home run, but was later ruled for a double. That put runners at second and third with no one out. Willie Argo was intentionally walked to load the bases, but Kovalik came up big, getting the next batters out with none of the runners moving up.
Harris was the last chance to add to the lead. He hit a hard grounder to the shortstop, who looked like he was rushed trying to get Argo at second. The throw was wild and went into foul territory in right field. That allowed Sam Maus, who had run for Gac, and Espinosa to score. A close two run game had turned into a nearly insurmountable lead now.
In the ninth Rodebaugh entered the game. He walked a single batter, but struck out two to close it out as the St. Paul Saints won 6-2.
Harris was not the only one who had a big day for the Saints. DiFazio and Angelo Songco each had two hits in the game. Argo was 0-1, but he walked three times and scored a run. Jon Jones had two hits for Gary.
By Robert Pannier