Corey Williams Shuts Down Goldeyes; Saints Offense Wins 18-2
The St. Paul Saints entered their three-game set against the Winnipeg Goldeyes reeling. They had been 2-8 over their last 10-games and have seen their 9.5-game North Division lead dwindle down to just three entering the series. It was a pivotal moment for the team where they needed someone to really step up for them and that is what they got, as starter Corey Williams was absolutely brilliant in making his third start of his professional career, and the Saints offense pounded the Goldeyes pitching staff for 18-runs off of 15-hits in the 18-2 victory. That moved the team’s magic number to clinch a playoff berth to one, and the magic number to win the division to three.
Williams came out firing, only allowing an infield single in the first. In the second, he walked back-to-back batters with one out, but then struck out Wes Darvill before getting a ground out to end the threat.
In the bottom of the second his team staked him to a lead. Nate Hanson singled to start the inning. Two batters later Vinny DiFazio singled and a walk loaded the bases with one out. Breland Almadova then grounded into a fielder’s choice the scored Hanson to put the Saints on top. That brought Alonzo Harris to the plate, who took the first pitch he saw and drilled it for a three-run homer over the left field fence to make it 4-0. That was Harris’ 15th homer of the year.
It would stay that way over the next three-innings. The game had a playoff atmosphere to it, which intensified when the Goldeyes scored two-runs in the top of the sixth to cut the deficit in half. Willie Cabrera walked to start the inning, but Williams then retired the next two batters. David Rohm then delivered a clutch two-out double that scored Cabrera to make it 4-1. Williams was then relieved by Benji Waite, who gave up a single to Casio Grider to make it 4-2.
It was suddenly a tight game, but the Saints did what they have done all season long – respond. DiFazio singled to start the bottom of the sixth. A sacrifice moved him to second and he reached third on a base hit by Almadova. Duke Von Schamann continued to try keep Almadova close at first, but one of his throws was wild and got away from the first baseman. DiFazio scored and Almadova reached third. Harris then walked and showed that he is just as quick with his legs as he is with his bat. The Saints center fielder stole second and, on the throw to second, Almadova stole home to move the lead back to four. It was the fifth time this season that the two had successfully used the delayed steal in the way to steal a run. Harris then scored on a single by Ryan Cavan and St. Paul led 7-2.
From there, the game turned ugly quite quickly. In the bottom of the seventh the St. Paul Saints put up eight-runs during an inning where 13 Saints batters came to the plate. Hanson and Angelo Songco each had 2-run singles in the frame. Songco even had two-hits in the inning and finished 3-5 in his first action since returning from the inactive list.
In the eighth, David Bergin would blast his 18th homer of the season, a three-run shot that extended the lead to 18-2. That would be the final, as the Saints would tie a franchise record for the largest single game margin of victory.
Williams (2-2) pitched an absolute gem. The lefty went 5.2-innings, allowing 4-hits, 4-walks, and 2-earned runs. He struck out 5. Manager George Tsamis had nothing but accolades for his starter.
“We’ve been struggling and really needed that. We needed someone to step up and he really delivered for us today. That’s a great lineup over there and he really pitched a great game for us.”
Hanson was 3-4 with 3-runs and 2-RBI. DiFazio finished the night 2-3 with 3-runs scored and an RBI. Harris was 1-5 with 2-runs and 3-runs driven in. Grider had 2-hits for Winnipeg.
Game 2 of this three-game set should be a big pitchers’ duel. Kevin McGovern (7-3, 3.72) will start for the Winnipeg Goldeyes. Mark Hamburger (12-4, 3.21) will go for his American Association leading 13th win. Game time is 7:05.
By Robert Pannier