Missed Opportunities Sinks St. Paul Saints, Explorers Grab 1-0 Series Lead
The St. Paul Saints had ace Ryan Zimmerman on the ropes on many occasions, but they could not put him away when they needed to, and they paid for it, falling 3-2 to the Sioux City Explorers. The visitors left 14 men on base, spoiling the first complete game of Kramer Sneed’s career along the way.
The game started for the Saints just as they could have wanted. With one out Ryan Cavan singled and he moved to second on a single by David Espinosa. An error by Noah Perio loaded the bases and Angelo Songco’s fielder’s choice plated Cavan to make it 1-0.
Sneed breezed through the first, striking out the first two batters he faced before retiring the final batter on a fly out. In the second the Explorers would tie the score against the left-hander. Perio reached on an error and scored when Tommy Mendonca doubled to make it 1-1.
The Saints had the opportunity to extend the lead in the top half of that inning, but a mistake on the base paths cost them a run. Willie Argo had doubled with one out and Alonzo Harris followed with a walk. Two batters later Espinosa lined a single into left field that looked like it would score Argo easily. Brent Keys alertly spotted Harris wandering past second too far and fired to the bag. Harris jumped back, but was tagged out before Argo scored to keep it a one-run game.
In the top of the third Songco gave St. Paul the lead again. With one out, the Saints first baseman crushed a Zimmerman offering over the right field fence to make it 2-1.
In the bottom of the third, Sioux City not only tied the score, but took their first lead of the game. Matty Johnson got the rally going with a walk and moved to second on a single by Michael Lang. Two batters later Brock Kjeldgaard was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Perio delivered a clutch two out double that scored both Johnson and Lang to make it 3-2.
That would be all the runs that either club could muster. The Saints put two on in the fourth with one out, but came away empty-handed. In the sixth Cavan recorded a double with two outs and that would be it for Zimmerman.
Rob Wort came on and he was simply awesome. The reliever went three full innings, allowing 2 hits and a walk, while striking out 5. With two outs in the ninth Jose Flores came on to end the game for his first save of the post-season.
The hard-luck loser on this night was Sneed. He pitched an absolute gem, allowing 3 hits, 2 walks and 2 earned runs in the complete game. He blew away 13 Sioux City hitters, a career high for one game.
For the Saints Cavan was 3-5 with a run scored. Espinosa was 2-4, as was Ian Gac, and Songco was 2-5 with a run and both of the team’s RBI.
Perio, Mendonca and Lang had the only Explorers hits on the night. Perio drove in two runs.
By Robert Pannier