Late Rally Extends RedHawks Lead in the North, 6-5
The St. Paul Saints desperately needed a victory Friday night and looked like they were in prime position to do so when they took a 5-2 lead in the fifth. However, the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks battled back to tie the score in the seventh, and took the lead an inning later in their 6-5 victory. The visitors mustered just 8-hits in the game but it proved to be enough to send the Saints to their sixth loss in their last 10 games, dropping them 3.5 games out of first.
The Saints took the lead in the bottom of the first. Tim Colwell singled to start the inning and moved to second on a base hit by JJ Gould. Nate Hanson followed with a single that loaded the bases, and Kes Carter brought home Colwell with a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0.
Matt Schuld blanked the RedHawks through the first two frames, but they would break through in the top of the third. Charlie Valerio led off the inning by clubbing his sixth home run of the season to tie the score. Schuld retired the next two batters, but Devan Ahart kept the inning alive by drawing a walk. Keury De La Cruz followed with a double. Ahart came all the way around to score but De La Cruz was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a triple to end the threat.
In the bottom half of the inning, the St. Paul Saints responded to tie the score. Colwell led off with his fourth homer of the year over the right field wall to tie the score at two.
In the fourth, St. Paul retook the lead. Mitch Delfino singled with one out and moved to second on a ground out. With two down, Tanner Lubach doubled into right field to score Delfino and the Saints were back on top 3-2.
In the fifth, the lead became two. Tyler Herron retired the first batter of the frame, but Gould hit a shot over the left-center field wall that made it 4-2. That was his first home run of the season. Hanson then walked before Tony Thomas singled into left to move Hanson to second. Carter lined a hard single into center that loaded the bases and a sacrifice fly by Delfino brought home Hanson to extend the lead to three.
In the top of the seventh, Fargo-Moorhead would cut that deficit. Josh Mazzola led off the inning against Ken Frosch by hitting his 10th homer of the year. That made it a two-run game. Frosch retired the next two batters, but Valerio singled to keep the inning alive, and the Saints turned to Jason Hoppe from out of their bullpen. Hoppe’s first pitch was to Brandon Tierney, who drilled it for his third home run of the season to tie the score at five.
Fargo-Moorhead took the lead in the top of the eighth. Chandler Hawkins came on to pitch for St. Paul and walked Ahart to start the inning. He stole second, but Hawkins was able to retire the next two batters to make it a runner at second with two down. Once again, the Saints went to the bullpen, bringing in Vinny Nittoli who walked the first batter he faced intentionally. Trever Adams walked to load the bases and K.D. Kang drew the third straight free pass to put the RedHawks on top 6-5.
In the ninth, Casey Weathers came on looking to close out the game. He retired St. Paul in order, striking out the final two batters he faced for his 14th save of the season. Troy McNutt (1-3) earned the victory with 2-scoreless innings of relief.
Charlie Valerio led the Fargo-Moorhead offense, going 2-4 with 2-runs and an RBI. Brandon Tierney drove in 2 and Devan Ahart scored 2. Both JJ Gould and Tim Colwell were 2-5 for the Saints. Colwell scored 2-runs and drove in one.
Game 3 of this four-game set is tomorrow. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier