Bottom of St. Paul Saints Order Rises to Top in 6-5 Win
Many around the American Association recognize that the St. Paul Saints have the best offense in the league, but quite often they add, “at least the top six guys.” There has been a continual lack of respect for the bottom third of the club’s order, but today they proved that they can be as lethal as any other part of this lineup.
The game featured Coby Cowgill squaring off against left-hander Pedro Hernandez. The home team got to Cowgill twice in each of the first two innings. In the bottom of the first Alonzo Harris and Willie Argo drew back-t0-back walks to start the frame. The Goldeyes starter then retired the two hottest Saints hitters, getting Vinny DiFazio and Angelo Songco to each fly out to make it two down. That brought Mike Kvasnicka to the plate, who lined a base hit into right field to score both runners and make it 2-0 St. Paul.
In the bottom of the second inning the No. 7 hitter, Anthony Phillips led off with a base hit, and Ryan Lashley followed by drawing a walk. Dan Kaczrowski then laid down a perfect bunt that moved both runners into scoring position. Alonzo Harris plated Phillips when he grounded to short, and Willie Argo brought home Lashley with a base hit that made it 4-0.
Hernandez looked incredibly sharp for the Saints early on, retiring eight of the first 10 hitters he faced, and one of those runners was thrown out trying to steal a base. In the fourth the Goldeyes finally got on the board. Casio Grider walked to begin the inning. Two batters later Reggie Abercrombie grounded into a fielder’s choice, wiping Grider off the base paths and putting Abercrombie at first. The runner then stole second and came around to score when Nic Jackson singled to right field.
That looked to be no problem. Hernandez looked sharp and Winnipeg seemed to have no answer for him, but one hit in the fifth changed all of that. Brad Boyer singled to start the inning, and moved to second on a base hit by Chris Robinson. Luis Alen then flew out, with Boyer moving to third. Adam Heisler delivered a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2, but there were two outs now. Chris Grider’s single to left field kept the inning alive, and Casey Haerther followed by drilling a pitch over the fence in left field to give the Winnipeg Goldeyes the lead. The three-run homer was Haerther’s fifth home run of the season, and staked his club to a one-run lead.
The crowd seemed stunned by the turn of events, and the enthusiasm that was being felt early on seemed to be gone. No worries on the St. Paul Saints bench however. This is a team that gives no impression on what is going on in games, and it is clear that they know that they can score when they need to. In the bottom of the eighth that is what they did, and it was their bottom third that came up big again.
With one out Joey Paciorek doubled the opposite way, and he came around to score when Phillips singled right back up the middle to tie the game. Lashely followed with a single that moved Phillips to second, and Kaczrowski drove home the game winner with a base hit into left field that plated Phillips.
Mike Zouzalik (2-0) had taken over in the eighth and allowed a walk, but struck out the side. He was in line to earn the win if Ryan Rodebaugh could close the game out.
In the ninth the Saints closer got two ground balls to Phillips, who made a strong throw on the second one to record the out. Rodebaugh struck out Heisler to end the game for his American Association leading 15th save.
The bottom third had a nice afternoon at the plate. Phillips was 2-3 with 2 runs and an RBI. Lashley was 1-3 with a run scored and Kaczrowski went 1-2 with the game winning RBI. Phillips also made two great plays in the field.
The victory gave the St. Paul Saint three wins in the four game series with Winnipeg. They now welcome Lincoln for four starting Thursday night.
By Robert Pannier