Four Homers Power Saints to 10-2 Victory over Stockade
It has not been an easily last couple of weeks for the St. Paul Saints, who entered Friday night’s competition against the Salina Stockade as losers of five straight and nine of their last 10. However, the Saints put this one to bed early, getting four home runs from their offense and six outstanding innings from Benji Waite (3-2) on their way to a 10-2 victory.
After a scoreless first, Salina would take the lead in the top the second. Cody Coffman lined a single into right field with one down, and moved to third on a double by the red-hot Jesse Baker. Two batters later Jordan Caillouet walked, and a hit by pitch of Logan Trowbridge brought Coffman home to make it 1-0 Stockade. The bases were still loaded, and Salina had the opportunity to try to break this game open early, but Waite struck out Aaron Olivas to end the inning and keep this one run game.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Saints responded with three-runs to take the lead. Nate Hanson doubled to start the inning, and two batters later Kes Carter walked. That brought catcher Maxx Garrett to the plate, who drilled the first pitch he saw for his third season.
In the third, the Saints extended their lead to three. Salina starter Josh Hodges retired the first two batters of the inning, but Anthony Gallas delivered his 15th home run of the season to make it 4-1.
In the bottom of the sixth, St. Paul broke this game wide open. A single by Gallas started the inning. He then stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. A flyball brought Gallas home to make it 5-1. With two down, Carter drew a walk and then stole second base. Garrett followed with a walk of his own before Jon Kristoffersen singled to score Carter. Breeland Almadova worked the count to 3-1 before he hit his second home run of the season over the left-center field wall to make it 9-1.
In the bottom of the seventh, the St. Paul Saints would add one more run courtesy of the long ball. With two down, Nate Hanson just cleared the wall in left field for his eighth homer of the year to make it 10-1.
The run support was more than enough for Saints starter Benji Waite. The right-hander was brilliant after giving up the run in the second. He allowed just one hit over the next four innings, and finished after going six strong. Waite allowed 4-hits and 4-walks, but just one run. He struck out 5.
Chandler Hawkins relieved and pitched two outstanding innings for St. Paul. Matt Schuld came on in the ninth looking to finish it out, and Salina would grab one more run against him. Coffman walked to start the inning, but was replaced on a fielder’s choice by Baker. A single by Roche Woodard moved Baker to second before Caillouet walked to load the bases. Trowbridge followed with a base hit that brought home Baker and this game was suddenly getting a lot hairier than anyone imagined. The bases were loaded with just one out, but Schuld induced a double-play to end the game.
The four home runs tied a season-high for St. Paul. Anthony Gallas and Nate Hanson were both 2-4, with 2-runs scored and an RBI. Maxx Garrett was 1-3 with 2-runs and 3-RBI. Breeland Almadova also drove in 3. Jesse Baker led the Salina offense with a 2-4 night. He scored a run, and Logan Trowbridge drove in 2.
Game 2 of this three-game set is tomorrow. Ryan Zimmerman will go for St. Paul. He will be opposed by Brian Smith. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier