Nate Hanson Home Run Sends St. Paul Saints to 5-2 Victory
The newest member of the St. Paul Saints finally got into the act Friday night. A few days after being signed by the club, the infielder blasted a two-run home run to break a 2-2 tie and give starter Robert Coe another complete game victory. The night included his first hits since joining the Saints.
Coe was opposed by Joe Bircher, and both pitchers kept the other team off the scoreboard in the first. In the second the St. Paul Saints got on the board, thanks to a costly error. Bircher retired the first two hitters of the inning, but Hanson kept the inning alive with his first hit since joining the team. It was a double that put him in scoring position. That was critical, because Steve Nikorak reached on an error that allowed Hanson to score and it was 1-0 St. Paul.
Coe breezed through the first three innings, allowing just a two-out walk in the second inning. In the fourth the Sioux Falls Canaries finally got their first hit of the game, and took the lead at the same time. With one out Coe hit David Bergin. Two hitters later Jason Repko deposited a pitch by Coe over the left field wall for his ninth home run of the season. That gave the Canaries their first lead of the game.
The score remained 2-1 into the fifth, but another costly error allowed the Saints to tie the score. With one out Nikorak ripped a double into the gap. Alonzo Harris’s single moved Nikorak to third. On the second pitch from Bircher, Harris stole second but Richard Stock’s throw to second was wild and went into center field. That allowed Harris to move to third while Nikorak scored to tie the game.
The score would remain tied at two heading into the seventh, but Hanson’s heroics changed all that. James Jones relieved for Sioux Falls and was greeted by a Willie Argo single to get things started. Next up was Hanson who took the first pitch he saw from Jones and drilled it for a two-run homer. Hanson’s first home run of the season gave the Saints a 4-2 lead, but they would add to the score. Jones retired the next two hitters, but Harris was not done adding insurance runs to the lead. He drilled his ninth home run of the season to increase the lead to three.
That was plenty enough runs for Coe (9-3) on this night. The two-run home run he allowed earlier proved to be an anomaly as he cruised through the remainder of the game. The Saints starter allowed just 3 hits in recording his ninth win of the season. He walked 2 and gave up 2 earned runs while striking out 7.
The outing continues the torrid run that the St. Paul Saints starter is on. He won his third straight decision and it was his sixth straight outing allowing two runs or less. It was also his third complete game of the season, second most in the American Association behind teammate Dustin Crenshaw’s five.
Hanson finished 2-3 with 2 runs and 2 RBI. Harris also had 2 hits, scored a run and drove in one.
By Robert Pannier