Mike Kvasnicka Doubles St. Paul Saints Pleasure in 8-4 Victory
Mike Kvasnicka decided that he wanted to play for his home town team this season, instead of moving onto the Minnesota Twins AAA team in Rochester. While some have taken issue with the right fielder’s decision, the Saints couldn’t be happier, as the home town hero delivered a huge hit in extra innings on the road to send the St. Paul Saints to the 8-4 win over the Amarillo Thunderheads.
There is a new rule for extra-inning games in the American Association this season, although it is not a new rule to the St. Paul Saints. The league has adopted the International Rules for the 11th inning this year, making it so that each team starts the 11th (and every inning beyond, if needed) with a runner on second base to start the frame. The Saints had been able to play under this rule last season when they visited the Quebec Capitales of the Can-Am League, who were already playing under the rule.
While the Saints were able to pull this one out in extra innings, they had their chance win this game long before it reached the second extra frame. The Thunderheads jumped out to the 2-0 lead against St. Paul Saints starter Kramer Sneed. The lefty gave up a triple on the first pitch he threw to Logan Vick to lead-off the bottom of the first. Two batters later, Jason Martin flew out to left field, scoring Vick to give Amarillo the one-run lead. Geraldo Valentin followed with a shot over the wall for his first home run of the season, to make the score 2-0.
Billy Petrick kept the Saints off the scoreboard until the top of the third when the Minnesota team would tie the score. In the fourth, Sam Maus reached on an error to start the third and Willie Argo followed with a single that moved Maus to third. A wild pitch brought the Saints second baseman home to cut the lead in half, and the incredibly hot Ian Gac followed with a double to score Argo.
With Anthony Figiolia on the hill for Amarillo in the sixth, the visitors would take the lead. Gac singled with one out, and after a Kvansnicka double moved Gac to third and Angelo Songco was intentionally walked, Vince DiFazio singled to score Gac and give the Saints their first lead of the game.
Following the first inning, Sneed never allowed more than one runner to reach base in any inning, and he retired the final seven batters he faced before his night was over. Sneed allowed seven total base runners (6 hits and 1 walk) in 7 innings of work, while striking out 6. He had the win, but the bullpen was unable to hold it.
In the bottom of the eighth Dylan Chavez took over for Sneed. Chavez retired the first batter of the inning, but then gave up a single to Drew Heid. Mike Zouzalik took over and struck out Martin, but back-to-back singles by Geraldo Valentin and Rene Leveret led to Heid scoring to tie the game.
In the top of the ninth Gac gave the Saints the lead again. Argo walked with one out, the St. Paul first baseman followed with a double, scoring Argo to make it 4-3.
Alan Oaks took over in the bottom of the ninth looking to close out the game for the Saints. It would not be. Juan Martinez singled to begin the frame and, after a bunt moved him to second, Jordan Guida singled to score Martinez and tie the game. The inning looked much more bleak when an error by the Saints catcher moved Guida to third with just one out. The visitors moved the infield in, and a sharp ground ball held Guida, allowed Anthony Phillips to make the play and keep the score tied. Alex Sogard relieved for the Saints and retired the final batter to send the game to extra innings.
Neither team would score in the 10th, but in the 11th St. Paul would blow the game open. With Phillips beginning the inning at second, Alonzo Harris led off by attempting to bunt. Guida leapt out from behind the ball looking to throw out Phillips, but his throw was not in time, putting runners at the corners with no one out. Amarillo reliever Rigaberto Arrebato struck out Maus and got Argo to fly out, and it looked like the lefty was going to get out of the inning, but a walk to Gac loaded the bases, bringing Kvasnicka to the plate. He lined a shot down the left field line, scoring two to give the Saints the 6-4 lead. The Thunderheads left fielder bobbled to ball, allowing Gac to score and it was 7-4. Angelo Songco singled following Kvasnicka’s increasing the lead to four.
Ryan Rodebaugh came back out in the bottom half of the inning and finished out the game. The right-hander worked the final two innings to earn his first win of the season. Arrebato took the loss.
Both Songco and Gac had huge days at the plate. Gac was 4-5 with 2 runs and 2 RBI, Songco also had four hits and an RBI. DiFazio was a perfect 3-3 with two walks, and Kvasnicka went 2-6 with a run and 2 RBI. Heid and Valentin had three hits each for Amarillo.
By Robert Pannier