Four Pitchers Combine to One-Hit Explorers, St. Paul Saints Win 1-0
To quote Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The St. Paul Saints had their shortest home game of the year, lasting just 2:09. However, two extended rain delays pushed the game to nearly five hours in length before it finally ended. However, despite the long delay, St. Paul pulled out the 1-0 victory to take two of the three games in the series with the Sioux City Explorers, and move their American Association leading record to 44-21 entering the four-game series against the Central Division leading Lincoln Saltdogs.
Saints starter John Straka looked incredibly sharp through the first three-innings. He retired the side in order in the first, but gave up a single and a walk in the second. However, he avoided any damage by getting a fly ball to left to end the threat, then retired the side in order in the third.
Graham Johnson looked equally impressive through the first two frames. He allowed a single in the second and then a leadoff single to Aaron Gretz in the third. Then the rains came again and delayed the game long enough that both pitchers were done. This then became a battle of whose bullpen would come up bigger on this afternoon. Both looked incredibly sharp.
When play resumed, Bubba Maxwell came on for the Sioux City Explorers. He looked incredibly sharp through the next 3.2-innings, allowing just 2-hits and walk, while striking out 3.
Caleb Thielbar came on in the fourth for St. Paul and gave the team three shutout innings, allowing just a walk. He struck out three, before turning the game over to the newly acquired Corey Williams in the seventh. Williams (1-0) was brilliant in his first outing for the team, tossing two perfect innings.
Maxwell had looked brilliant, but got into a little trouble in the sixth. PJ Francescon came on in the sixth to close out the inning and remained in the game. In the seventh Tanner Vavra reached on an error with one out, but was replaced on the base paths on a fielder’s choice by Gretz. That brought Sam Maus to the plate with two outs. He took the first pitch from the Explorers reliever and roped it to the gap in left-center for a double. That scored Gretz and gave the Saints the 1-0 lead.
That would be all the run support the team would need. In the ninth, Ryan Rodebaugh came on and retired Sioux City in order for his league leading 17th save of the season. Combined, the four St. Paul Saints pitchers allowed just one-hit, the team’s first one-hitter since Robert Coe 1-hit the Lincoln Satldogs in August of last year.
Gretz proved to be the offensive hero, going 2-3 with a run scored. Maus was 1-3 with an RBI. LeVon Washington had the only hit for Sioux City.
The Saints now head to Lincoln to take on the Central Division leading Saltdogs starting Thursday night. Dan Johnson (1-2, 6.89) will get the start for the Saints, Shairon Martis (7-5, 3.22) will start for Lincoln. First pitch is 6:35.
By Robert Pannier