Kramer Sneed Continues Dominance by St. Paul Saints Starters
Eight games into their nine game road trip, the St. Paul Saints find themselves 11-1, already 5.5 games ahead of the Winnipeg Goldeyes in the American Association’s North Division. They are 7-1 on their current road trip, and a lot of that can be attributed to the dominant level in which their starting rotation has been performing.
Robert Coe nearly no-hit Laredo in Game 1 of the club’s double-header with the Lemurs on Sunday, and Pedro Hernandez followed that with five shutout innings in Game 2. Yesterday Dustin Crenshaw went eight innings, allowing just one run and five hits. Tuesday night it was Kramer Sneed’s opportunity to get into the act.
Sneed (2-0) went six innings against the Grand Prairie AirHogs, allowing six hits and three walks. Most importantly, he allowed just one run, giving the lefty his second win of the season, and lowering his ERA to 1.89.
The AirHogs had the early lead in this contest, scoring a run in the bottom of the first. With two outs, John Weber singled and moved to second on a base hit by Victor Diaz. That extended Diaz’s hit streak to six games, a span where he has gone 9-24. A single by Zane Chavez loaded the bases, and Victor Ferrante drew a walk from Sneed, moving everyone up 90-feet and plating Weber. This inning could have gotten ugly real fast, but the left-hander remained poised and got Chris Elder to ground out to the end the threat.
Jason Jarvis (0-2) started for Grand Prairie, and looked very good through the first two innings, allowing two first inning singles, but showing some real moxie by getting superstar Ian Gac out to end the first.
In the top of the third the Saints tied the game. With one out, Alonzo Harris took the first pitch that Jarvis threw to him and deposited over the fence for his first home run of the year. Harris is known more for his speed, but he showed he has some power as well.
In the fourth, catcher Vinny DiFazio also showed he has some power. One out hits by Mike Kvasnicka and Angelo Songco put runners at first and second. DiFazio took two quick strikes before patiently taking three straight pitches for balls to work the count full. Jarvis tried to sneak one past the Saints catcher, but DiFazio was having none of it, blasting his second home run of the year to give St. Paul the lead.
In the seventh, the St. Paul Saints turned the ball over to Dylan Chavez. Grand Prairie’s first batter to face Chavez was Jamodrick McGruder who hit his first home run of the year to cut the lead to two. Two batters later Weber walked. Later in the inning Hayden Jennings singled but an error by Chavez allowed Weber to score, and moved Jennings 90-feet away from tying the game.
Manager George Tsamis showed some incredible confidence in Alan Oaks, bringing him in to try to stop the AirHogs from tying it. Oaks had been struggling early this season in the closer’s role, but here he delivered, getting Ferrante to swing at the first pitch for a shallow fly ball that was caught by Songco to end the inning.
St. Paul responded in the top of the eighth by plating three runs of their own. Gac singled, but was cut down on a fielder’s choice by Kvasnicka that put the right fielder at first. Songco singled and DiFazio was hit by a pitch. With the bases loaded, Grand Prairie reliever Blake Oliver uncorked a wild pitch and scored Kvasnicka. Two batters later a double by Steve Nikorak scored both runners, and the Saints were up 7-3.
That would end the scoring for both teams. Songco continued his early season hitting spree, going 3-4 with two runs. The 1B/DH has hit in eight of the team’s first 10 games, and is now ninth in the American Association with a .381 average. Kvasnicka had a hit and he is at .400, sixth in the league.
The Saints close out their road trip tomorrow in Grand Prairie tomorrow. Jeff Shields (2-0, 3.27) will be looking for his third win on the young season for the St. Paul Saints.
By Robert Pannier