Medina, Saints Edge RailCats for Ninth Straight Win on Road, 3-2
St. Paul Saints manager George Tsamis has seen a lot in his managerial career. On Thursday night at U.S. Steel Yard he was at the helm for his 2,000th game in his career and his team gutted out a 3-2 victory over the Gary SouthShore Railcats for their ninth consecutive victory. It was also the teams eighth straight road win, tying a regular season franchise high with the 2015 and 2016 teams. Both those teams made the playoffs and Tsamis is hoping his 2019 squad can do the same. The Saints improved to 56-33 on the season and are 2.5 games behind the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks for the top spot in the North Division, but have a 3.0 game lead on the Chicago Dogs for the second playoff spot with 11 to go.
Saints starter Eddie Medina, who entered play with the second best ERA in the league, was magnificent and was perfect for 3.1 innings before walking MJ Rookard with one out in the fourth. Rookard would steal second and move to third on the throwing error by catcher Mike Aiello. Medina would strikeout Randy Santiesteban and get All-Star Colin Willis to foul out to end the inning.
In the fifth, the Saints got on the board against RailCats starter Justin Sinibaldi, who entered play with the sixth best ERA in the league. Chesny Young led off with a single to right-center and Blake Schmit walked. With the RailCats expecting a bunt and the wheel play on (where the third baseman charges and the shortstop goes to cover third), Mike Aiello swung away and sent an RBI base hit up the middle giving the Saints a 1-0 lead. Aiello took second on the throw to third. With runners at second and third, Dan Motl’s ground out to short scored Schmit and the Saints led 2-0.
Medina had one bad inning and it came in the bottom of the fifth. With one out he walked back-to-back hitters and then hit Jackson Smith to load the bases. Marcus Mooney singled down the left field line scoring two runs and tying the game at two. Michael Blatchford followed with a single to load the bases, but Medina got Rookard to ground into an inning ending double play.
In the sixth the RailCats threatened again as Alex Crosby singled with two outs. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and took third when Aiello’s throw down to second skipped into center field. Medina got Ray Jones to hit a line drive to right that Michael Lang made a sliding catch on to end the inning. Medina went 8.0 innings allowing two runs on three hits while walking three and striking out seven.
The Saints regained the lead in the seventh when Schmit reached on an infield single to third. That was the last batter Sinibaldi faced as Andrew Cartier came out of the bullpen. Schmit would steal second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. A walk to Aiello put runners at the corners. Motl notched his second RBI of the night with a sacrifice fly to left making it 3-2.
In the ninth Ken Frosch began the inning and hit the lead off man Willis. He would steal second and advance to third on a groundout. Then the play of the game occurred. With the infield in Jones hit a ground ball to the second baseman Allen who charged, and threw on the run to the plate to get Willis for the second out. Karch Kowalczyk took over for Frosch and got Andy DeJesus to ground out to third to end the game.
The same two teams meet in the finale of the three-game series on Friday night at 7:10 p.m. The Saints send LHP Jordan Jess (6-0, 3.47) to the mound against RailCats LHP Seth Hougesen (3-3, 5.36). The game can be heard on KFAN Plus, 96.7 FM.
By Sean Aronson