Max Murphy Drives in 5 to Help Saints Sweep T-Bones, 9-3
The St. Paul Saints were looking to complete their sweep of the Kansas City T-Bones on Sunday evening and, thanks to a 5-RBI night before by Max Murphy, the Saints were able to do so, winning 9-3. Justin O’Conner drove in two and scored two runs and Chris Nunn won his fourth game of the year. The victory kept the Saints a half game behind the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks for second place in the North Division.
After a scoreless first inning, the Saints jumped out in front with four in the second. Zach Walters started the inning with the first of two doubles he would have on the evening and he moved to third on little nubber by Dante Bichette, Jr. that he legged out for an infield single. Nathaniel Maggio was hit by a pitch and Walters and Bichette scored when Justin O’Conner followed with a base hit up the middle. A sacrifice moved both runners into scoring position before Max Murphy brought home Maggio with a ground out. A Kyle Barrett single brought home O’Conner and the St. Paul Saints were out to a quick 4-0 lead.
St. Paul starter Chris Nunn had retired nine of the first 10 batters he had faced, but the T-Bones would get a run back in the top in the fourth. With one down, Todd Cunningham singled up the middle and he moved to second on a wild pitch. Former Saint Noah Perio, Jr. delivered a clutch two out double to score Cunningham and cut the deficit to three.
In the bottom half of the frame, St. Paul would extend their lead to six. Anthony Phillips led off the inning with a single up the middle and Murphy followed with his third homer of the year, a two-run shot that made it 6-0. Barrett then singled into right and it looked like he would be stranded when Lucas Irvine retired the next two batters, but a Bichette double down the line in right brought home Barrett with the third run of the inning.
Kansas City would respond with a run in the top of the fifth. Alay Lago singled to start the inning and moved to third following a Lagan Moon double. The Saints left their defense back, willing to concede the run and Lago scored on a ground out by Tucker Pennell to make it 7-2.
The St. Paul Saints responded in the bottom of the frame. Maggio and O’Conner began the inning with back-to-back singles. A sacrifice by Phillips, his second of the game, moved both runners into scoring position and they both scored on a base hit by Murphy.
Chris Nunn (4-2) would pitch into the sixth but, after giving up a single and a wild pitch, his evening would be over. He went 5.1-innings, allowing 6-hits, a walk, and 2-earned runs. The lefty struck out 6.
The Saints bullpen took over from there. Beck Wheeler finished off the sixth and tossed a scoreless seventh, allowing no base runners while striking out two in 1.2-innings. Ken Frosch came on in the eighth and gave up a run. The Saints reliever gave up a one out double to Cunningham and Perio drove home his second run of the game with a two-out single. That made it 9-3, which would be the final. Mike Devine tossed a scoreless ninth inning, extending his scoreless innings streak to 20.
The St. Paul Saints were led by Max Murphy, who was 2-5 with a run and 5-RBI. Dante Bichette, Jr. was 3-5 with a run scored, and Justin O’Conner was 2-5 with 2-runs and 2-RBI. Todd Cunningham finished 3-4 with 2-runs scored for Kansas City, and Noah Perio, Jr. had 2-hits and 2-RBI for the T-Bones.
The Saints head to Sioux Falls to begin a three-game series against the Canaries beginning Monday night. Trevor Foss (2-2, 3.22) will get the opening game start for St. Paul. He will be opposed by Dylan Thompson (4-7, 5.55). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier