Bus Lag Cannot Stop St. Paul Saints; Down Canaries 5-4
A night after defeating the Texas AirHogs in Amarillo, Texas at about 10 P.M., the St. Paul Saints had to board a bus and ride nearly 800 miles to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to take on the Canaries Thursday night. Most teams would be exhausted and sore from the long ride, but the Saints shook that off getting six-plus outstanding innings out of right-hander Robert Coe, while Aaron Gretz continues to impress in his time behind the plate as St. Paul downed the Sioux Falls Canaries 5-4.
The Saints jumped out to a 2-0 lead through the first four innings of the game. Stephen Bougher, who has been a nemesis for St. Paul, started for the Canaries and held the visitors off the scoreboard in the first, but Gretz would give them the lead in the second. Tony Thomas singled to start the inning, the 21st straight game that he has reached base with a hit. Mike Gilmartin followed with a single and a walk to Willie Argo loaded the bases. Gretz grounded out, driving Thomas home and it was 1-0.
In the fourth the Saints extended their lead to two. Again, it was Gretz who delivered the big hit. Gilmartin doubled to start the inning. Two batters later Gretz lined a single up the middle to score Gilmartin and it was 2-0.
St. Paul was able to extend their lead in the top of the fifth. A walk to Brady Burzynski got the inning started, and he moved to second when Nate Hanson singled. Angelo Songco drew a walk to load them up for the Thomas, who also drew a walk to drive home Burzyinski. The inning could have gotten considerably worse, but Bougher got Gilmartin to foul out before inducing a double-play to end the inning.
Coe had been nothing short of spectacular through the first four frames, retiring the first seven batters of the game, before yielding a one out hit in the bottom of the third. He gave up a hit and walk in the fourth, but got a big double-play of his own to end the threat.
Trailing by three, the Canaries would finally get on the board in the bottom of the fifth. Taylor Zeutenhorst singled to start the inning, and scored when Frank Martinez hit his fourth homerun of the year. The two-run shot made it a one-run game.
It would stay 3-2 until the seventh, when both teams would add a run. Hanson doubled to start the top of the seventh and came around to score on a single by Gilmartin. In the bottom of the seventh, Martinez led the inning off with a double of his own and scored when Ozney Guillen plated him on a ground out.
In the top of the eighth, the St. Paul Saints got an insurance run, and that proved to be the difference in the game. Alonzo Harris doubled with one out and moved to third on an error. Burzynski followed with a single to make it 5-3.
In the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Rodebaugh came on looking to close it out. He would give up a leadoff double to Nolan Johnson and a single by Guillen made it a one-run game. There were two outs and tying run standing at first, but Rodebaugh got a lined drive out to the right fielder to end the game.
Coe (3-0) earned the victory to remain undefeated. He went 6.1 innings, allowing 8-hits, 3-earned runs, and 3-walks. Rodebaugh picked up his sixth save of the season. Bougher (1-2) took the loss.
Gilmartin finished 2-4 with a run and an RBI. Harris was 2-5 with a run scored, and Gretz drove in the first two runs of the game for St. Paul.
These two teams will continue their four-game series tomorrow night. Game time is 7:05.
By Robert Pannier