Jeff Shields Provides Heavenly Performance in 5-2 St. Paul Saints Win
Jeff Shields is making it perfectly clear that he may have needed three extra days before he was ready to join the St. Paul Saints this season, but no one is filling his shoes. The right-hander earned his third win of the season already, giving the Saints the 5-2 victory. That completed a nine-game road trip that saw St. Paul drop the first game and then win the next eight to improve their franchise best start to 12-1.
T.J. Bozeman started for Grand Prairie and pitched quite well through the first two innings. A double by Willie Argo in the first put runners at second and third with one out, but Bozeman remained poised, striking out both Ian Gac and Mike Kvasnicka to end the threat. In the second he retired the side in order. In the third things did not go so well.
Alonzo Harris drew a walk with one out. Back-to-back singles by Mitch Elliot and Willie Argo loaded the bases for Gac, who dropped a bloop single into center field, scoring both Harris and Elliot. A sacrifice fly by Kvasnicka scored Argo, and Angelo Songco singled to center driving home Gac to make it 4-0.
That was more than enough support for Shields (3-0) on this night. The right-hander went seven innings, allowing seven hits and two runs, walking none while striking out nine. The outing lowered his ERA to 3.00.
The only runs against Shields came in his final inning of work. Victor Diaz singled to begin the bottom of the seventh, and scored two batters later when Victor Ferrante blasted his first home run of the season. That made the score 4-2.
In the eighth the Saints turned to ace setup man Mike Zouzalik who pitched a perfect eighth inning. Logan Norris relieved Bozeman (0-1) in the sixth, and pitched well. He threw three scoreless innings to keep the Grand Prairie AirHogs within two runs.
The St. Paul Saints wanted an insurance run and got it against Dakota Watts in the ninth. Harris reached first on an error by the AirHogs second baseman, and moved to second on a perfectly laid bunt by Elliot. That brought Argo to the plate, who took a 2-2 pitch from Watts and dropped it into right field, bringing Harris home with the Saints fifth run of the night.
In the bottom of the ninth Saints manager George Tsamis turned to Alex Sogard to get the first out, then put in Ryan Rodebaugh to finish out the game. Rodebaugh gave up a single to Diaz, but then retired the final two batters to earn his third save of the season.
Argo and Harris both had big nights, and both players have been seeing their averages on the steady rise lately. Harris was 1-2 with 2 runs and 3 walks. Argo rapped out three hits in five at-bats, scored a run and drove in another.
The St. Paul Saints have Thursday off, and now head home to take on the Sioux Falls Canaries Friday night. Pedro Hernandez (1-1, 4.50) gets the start.
By Robert Pannier
Follow the St. Paul Saints season with Strike Zone by George Tsamis. This show gives you, the fans, the opportunity to gain insights from the club’s Skipper.