Justin O’Conner Leads Saints to Victory in Rain Shortened Affair
The red-hot Kansas City T-Bones came to town Friday night, looking to extend the woes of the St. Paul Saints, but catcher Justin O’Conner and a downpour made the T-Bones all wet, as the Saints would earn the 4-1, rain-shortened victory. O’Conner led the offense by blasting his first home run in nearly a month, and Matt Solter won his second game in a row.
This was a great pitcher’s duel through the first three innings, as Solter and Kansas City starter Hunter Adkins matched each other pitch-for-pitch. Solter did not allow a hit through the first three frames, while Adkins loaded the bases in the second, but got out of it by striking out Max Murphy to end the threat.
In the fourth, both teams would finally break through. In the top of the inning Todd Cunningham singled with one down and moved to second when Colin Walsh walked. In an interesting twist of irony, Noah Perio, Jr. grounded a ball to second baseman Zach Walters (These two players were dealt for each other nearly a month ago). Walters made a nice play but his throw to second was wild. That allowed Perio to reach and for Cunningham to score to put the T-Bones on top.
The St. Paul Saints responded right away in the bottom of the fourth. After Walters walked to begin the inning, Dante Bichette, Jr. singled into center. Nathaniel Maggio laid down a perfect bunt to move both runners into scoring position. That brought Justin O’Conner to the plate, who fell behind 1-2 before crushing a shot over the left field wall for his 10th homer of the year. That made it 3-1 St. Paul.
Solter breezed through the fifth. In the sixth, the St. Paul starter retired the first batter of the inning before walking Cunningham. A ground out moved him to second, and that would be it for Solter (3-4). The right-hander allowed just one-hit and an unearned run. He walked 2 and struck out 4. Ken Frosch came and retired Perio.
Adkins continued through the sixth for Kansas City, and then the rains came to start the seventh. After an 82 minute rain delay the game was called. Frosch earned his first save of the season.
Justin O’Conner finished 1-2 with a run and 3-RBI. Dante Bichette, Jr. was 2-3 with a run. Todd Cunningham had the only hit for the T-Bones.
Game 2 of this three-game set is scheduled for Saturday evening. Eddie Medina (5-4, 2.69) will go for the Saints. He will be opposed by Jayson Aquino (0-0, 4.36). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier