Martinez Drives in Six, Saints Tied for First, 12-9
ST. PAUL, MN (August 29, 2019) – The St. Paul Saints have had some incredible wins this season, but Thursday night’s, in front of 7,681 at CHS Field, may have been their most impressive. Down 8-2 entering the bottom of the sixth, the Saints scored five runs in back-to-back innings and in the process set a new franchise record, and tied the American Association record, with seven home runs in the game. The 12-9 victory puts the Saints at 61-35. They are now tied with the RedHawks for first place in the North Division, but hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. They also remain 4.0 games clear of the Chicago Dogs for a postseason spot with four games to play. Their magic number to clinch a playoff berth is down to one.
The bottom of the sixth began with a solo shot into the left field bullpen courtesy of Blake Schmit, his third of the season, to cut the Saints deficit to 8-3. It came against Fargo starter Ryan Williams, who had allowed just one homer all season entering the night. Michael Lang followed Schmit with his own solo shot to right, his 10th of the season, to make it an 8-4 game. Brady Shoemaker worked a walk and John Silviano advanced him to third with a long single off the right field wall. The next batter was Jeremy Martinez. He yanked the first pitch of his at-bat down the left field line, and just inside the foul pole, for a three-run shot, his 10th of the season. Williams was pulled and it was suddenly a one-run ballgame at 8-7.
After a perfect top of the seventh from Todd Van Steensel, the Saints faced Brent Jones in the bottom half. Schmit led off with a walk and was sacrificed to second on a bunt by Lang. With one away, Shoemaker flew out to right. That’s when lefthander Joe Filomeno entered the game to face the lefty Silviano. He hit the first basemen on the shoulder with a 2-2 pitch to put the go-ahead run on base. Martinez then struck for his second three-run homer of the night, and 11th of the season, into the left field bullpen and the Saints suddenly had a 10-8 lead. Martinez set a career high with two home runs and six RBI on the night. They would add more when Josh Allen walked and Jabari Henry joined the party with a two-run blast to right, his second of the season, to make it 12-8 Saints after seven.
It was the RedHawks’ bats that dominated the early stages of the ballgame. Fargo-Moorhead teed off against Ryan Zimmerman, getting to him for seven runs on 10 hits. A Chris Jacobs RBI single in the first inning made it 1-0 right away. After a Shoemaker solo homer, his 17th of the season, tied it in the bottom half, the RedHawks’ offense got back to work.
In the third, Brennan Metzger led off with a double to right. Tim Colwell was hit by a pitch and Devan Ahart singled to right to load the bases with nobody out. Jacobs then came through with his second run-scoring single of the night, driving in Metzger and Colwell to put Fargo-Moorhead up 3-1. Correlle Prime followed with a towering flyball that clanked off the left field foul pole for a three-run homer, his 17th of the season, to make it 6-1.
The Saints got one back in the bottom of the third when Chris Baker took Williams deep to dead center for a solo home run, his third of the season, to make it 6-2.
The RedHawks would answer in the top of the fourth when Joe Becht clubbed his first homer of the season over the wall in right to extend their lead back out to 7-2.
Fargo-Moorhead kept coming in the top of the sixth against Ryan Schlosser. With one out, Metzger singled to left, stole second and moved to third on a Colwell groundout to the mound. Ahart then poked a slow roller to Baker at short that he beat out for an infield single. Metzger scored and the RedHawks’ lead ballooned to 8-2.
After the Saints mounted their massive comeback, Ken Frosch and Tanner Kiest came on to shut the door. Frosch relieved Van Steensel with runners on first and second and one out in the eighth. He struck out Colwell and then gave up an RBI single to Ahart. Carlos Garcia scored from second to cut the Saints lead to 12-9. That’s when Kiest came in and punched out Chris Jacobs swinging to strand the tying run at the plate and escape the inning.
In the ninth, Kiest issued walks to Leo Pina, with one out, and Garcia with two out. The tying run once again came to the plate, this time in the form of Becht. After a long battle, Kiest struck him out swinging to earn the save and cap off the Saints 22nd come-from-behind victory of the season.
The two teams meet again for the finale of the three-game series Friday night at 7:05 p.m. at CHS Field. RHP Landon Beck (5-2, 3.86) starts for the Saints while RHP Michael Tamburino (7-5, 3.28) goes for the RedHawks. It is Fan Appreciation Night presented by Minnesota Corn Growers, featuring a postgame Monster Food Truck Rally and Xcel Energy Fireworks Super Show. The game can be heard on KFAN Plus, 96.7FM, and seen on the Saints Cable Network, cable access channels in and around the Twin Cities Metro.
By Sean Aronson
Featured Image by Travis Luberts/Capture Twin Cities