Bougher, Schmit Lead Sioux Falls 3-2 Victory; Saints Drop First
It was an exciting battle between two undefeated heavy weights in the North Division of the American Association Monday Night. The St. Paul Saints traveled to the Sioux Falls Canaries with both teams coming in at 4-0. Thanks to Stephen Bougher and Blake Schmit the Canaries left the game still undefeated and, for the first time since 2014, the Saints do not lead their division.
Bougher was opposed by Alec Crawford, who was pulled into an emergency start for St. Paul, but pitched well enough that he should have won this game. Neither team was able to score in the first two frames, as both pitchers retired the side in order in both innings.
In the third the Saints got a little rally going as Mike Gilmartin led off the inning with a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice. Two batters later Alonzo Harris reached on an error to put runners at the corners with two outs, but the Canaries starter coolly retired Breland Almadova to end the threat.
In the fourth, Sioux Falls would finally break the scoreless tie. Crawford had allowed a lone walk through the first three innings, but had retired the minimum batters through three. In the fourth, the Saints right-hander recorded the first out of the inning, but Blake Schmit drilled a home run, his first of the season, to make it a 1-0 game. Two batters later Cameron Monger was hit by a pitch to keep the inning alive. He would then steal second and move to third on a wild pitch. Ethan Chapman walked to extend the inning, and Frank Martinez followed with a sharp single into right field. Monger scored easily, but Martinez was caught leading too far off first base on a heads up play by Almadova to end the inning.
It would remain a two-run lead for Sioux Falls into the sixth when they would extend their lead. Chris Grayson started the frame with a single, then stole second base. With a 2-0 count, Schmit singled to score Grayson and it was 3-0.
The Saints had done very little offensively against Brougher through the first six, but they would finally get on the scoreboard in the seventh. Willie Argo started the inning with a double and moved to third on a ground out. Nate Hanson then delivered a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1.
Bougher (1-0) would be done after allowing a single, but he delivered an absolute gem. The Canaries starter went 6.2 innings, allowing 3-hits, a walk and 1-earned run. He struck out 2.
In the ninth, Sioux Falls closer Chase Johnson came on looking to record his second save of the season. He would get there, but it would not be an easy road. Argo walked with one out and two batters later it was Hanson coming through again, doubling to drive home Argo to make it 3-2. The Saints had the tying run 180-feet away, but Johnson struck out Tony Thomas to end the game.
Schmit finished the contest 2-4 with a run scored and 2-RBI for the Sioux Falls Canaries. Grayson was 2-4 and scored a run. Hanson was 1-3 and drove in both runs. Argo scored both St. Paul runs.
These two teams will continue their three-game set tomorrow night. Game time is 7:05.
By Robert Pannier