Hamburger Hurls, Hanson Hammers Saints to 5-2 Victory
Thursday night was the opening game of the St. Paul Saints 25th season, and the team saw a whole lot of fireworks as Nate Hanson and Tony Thomas homered, and fan favorite Mark Hamburger tossed 8.1 outstanding innings as the Saints downed the Gary Southshore RailCats 5-2. Hanson finished with 2-hits and 3-RBI to lead the way.
This was a classic pitchers’ duel through the first five innings of the game. Hamburger found himself in trouble in only one inning. That was the fourth when he allowed two singles, but got a ground out to end the threat. Otherwise, he was mowing down the RailCats by simply challenging hitters to try to hit his stuff.
Rosario allowed a two-out double in the first, then caught fire, retiring the next 14 batters. The Gary Southshore starter had struck out eight through the first five frames, but things unraveled for him in the sixth.
With one down, Jon Kristofferson finally broke the run with a ground ball single that was just out of the reach of 2B John Holland. Danny Oh followed with a line single to center before Breland Almadova advanced both runners with a ground ball. That brought Nate Hanson to plate. In the first, he had lined a double off the wall in left that fell about five feet short of being a home run. He would not miss this time. He drilled a 1-0 pitch into the bullpen in left field for a three-run homer. Brady Shoemaker followed with a single and Tony Thomas then drilled a two-run homer deep over the left-center field wall to make it 5-0.
With a commanding lead, Hamburger continued to make chopped liver of the RailCats hitters. Following the two hits in the fourth, the righty retired 10 in a row before giving up a single to start the eighth. That would be to Ryan Fitzgerald, who stole second to put a runner in scoring position with no one out. However, Hamburger remained cool, getting a flyball out before striking out Chase Harris for the second out of the inning, then getting a ground out to end the threat,
He was in complete command, but Gary would finally get on the board in the ninth. Anthony Cheky, Jr. singled to start the inning and, two batters later, Alex Crosby hit one off the end of his bat that Hamburger tried to make a play on. He fielded the ball but his throw to first was wild and both runners moved into scoring position. Jaime Del Valle followed with a single that scored both runs and it was 5-2.
That wold be the last batter Mark Hamburger (1-0). The righty went 8.1-innings, allowing 7-hits and 2-runs, neither were earned. He also struck out 8.
Following the game, Saints Manager George Tsamis has nothing but rave reviews for his starter. “He is just Mark Hamburger. He pitched a great game. It is just too bad that he could not complete that one.”
Seth Rosin came on in relief and was overpowering. The righty struck out the final two batters of the inning to earn his first save in a Saints uniform.
Nate Hanson finished 2-4 with a double, home run, and 3-RBI. Tony Thomas was 1-4 with 2-RBI and Brady Shoemaker had 2-hits in his first game in a Saints uniform. Jamie Del Valle was 2-4 with 2-RBI for Gary.
These two teams will go at it again tomorrow night. It will be a battle of lefties as Alex Gunn will go for Gary against Eric Veghlan. Game time is 7:05.
By Robert Pannier