Anthony Phillips, Alonzo Harris Set Stage for St. Paul Saints Victory
St. Paul Saints manager George Tsamis is right. It does seem like it is a new guy that comes through for his team each night, and he gets contributions from everywhere in his lineup. Tonight it was time for his No. 1 and No. 9 hitters to lead the way, as Alonzo Harris and Anthony Phillips went a combined 5-9 with 5 runs scored in the St. Paul Saints 8-5 victory over the Winnipeg Goldeyes.
This game got off to a tough beginning for both starting pitchers. Pedro Hernandez was the starter for the St. Paul Saints, and the very first hitter he faced quickly made it 1-0. Adam Heisler took a 1-2 offering from the lefty and deposited it over the right field fence for his fourth home run of the season.
In the bottom of the first the home team got that run right back. Harris led off with a single against Anthony Smith and stole second base, his 29th of the season. Two batters later Vinny DiFazio walked. Following an error that moved Harris to third, Angelo Songco walked and the bases were loaded with one out. Mike Kvasnicka followed with a line drive into right field. It was tough to judge if the ball was going to drop in or not and, when it did, DiFazio was hung up off second base on the tough play. He was tagged out at third, but Harris scored and the game was tied.
In the top of the second the Winnipeg Goldeyes got right back on the board. Reggie Abercrombie was awarded first base on a catcher’s obstruction call by the home plate umpire. Abercrombie moved to second on a ground out and scored on a single by Tim Pugh. That made it 2-1.
In the bottom half of the second the Saints took the lead for the first time in the game, and they would not surrender it. Ryan Lashley began the inning by laying down a perfect bunt that he beat out for a single. Two batters later Phillips singled into right field, moving Lashley to second. Harris then grounded to the second baseman, but he booted the ball, loading the bases with just one out. A walk to Willie Argo brought in Lashley to tie the game. Next up came DiFazio, who lined a single into center field scoring both Harris and Phillips, and the Saints had their first lead of the game.
In the top of the third the Goldeyes cut the lead in half. Hernandez retired the first hitter of the inning, but Casio Grider drilled a 1-0 pitch over the left field fence for his fourth home run of the season.
The Saints would be kept off the scoreboard in the bottom of the third, as would the Goldeyes in the top of the fourth, but in the bottom half of that inning the St. Paul Saints gave themselves a little cushion. Back-to-back singles by Phillips and Harris got the inning started. Two batters later DiFazio walked to load the bases. Angelo Songco’s sacrifice fly brought in Phillips to make it 5-3. It also gave the Saints first baseman his 70th RBI of the season, tying him again with DiFazio for the American Association lead in that category. That brought Mike Kvasnicka to the plate, who lined a shot to the wall in right field that scored both runners. Kvasnicka ran hard and slid into third safely for a two-run triple. That made the score 7-3.
In the bottom of the fifth the Saints tacked on another run. Lashley led off the inning with a double down the left field line. Two batters later Phillips singled up the middle to drive home Lashley to make it 8-4.
The Saints shortstop was absolutely outstanding on this evening. Phillips was 3-4 with 2 runs scored and an RBI. He also made two fine defensive plays at short, one after an amazing play by Harris in center.
Hernandez came out after six, and Tsamis turned to Chris Peacock. The big right-hander retired the first hitter of the inning, but then walked Heisler. Grider grounded out to move the runner to second and he scored when Peacock jammed Casey Haerther, breaking his bat, but he got enough of the ball for a lame duck single to drop into left field that scored Heisler to make it 8-4.
In the eighth Winnipeg would pull within three. Brad Boyer walked with one out, and moved to second on a single by Luis Alen. A wild pitch moved both runners up ninety feet, and Pugh plated Boyer with a sacrifice fly to make it 8-5. Tsamis then turned to his closer, Ryan Rodebaugh, who retired the final batter to end the inning.
In the ninth Rodebaugh returned to the mound looking to close out his 19th game of the year, tops in the league. He retired the first hitter on a comebacker, then got Grider to pop out to first for the second out of the inning. A pop out to second ended the game, and the Saints moved their magic number to 4 games to clinch the North Division.
Hernandez (8-2) earned the victory with 6 solid innings of work, allowing 7 hits, a walk, and 3 runs, only two of which were earned. He also had the heat going, striking out 7.
Harris continues to dominate from the lead-off spot. He went 2-5 with 3 runs scored and the stolen base. He also made two brilliant plays in center field, one an amazing diving catch that took away extra bases.
By Robert Pannier