Nate Hanson Leads St. Paul Saints in Slugfest, 13-11
It wasn’t pretty Sunday night, but the St. Paul Saints won the rubber match of the three-game series with the Laredo Lemurs, downing the visitors 13-11. That gave Robert Coe his 40th victory in a St. Paul Saints’ jersey, tying him for the career record for wins as a Saint. Nate Hanson had the biggest bat of all, going 4-4 with 4-runs scored in the victory.
The game started off well for both teams’ offenses. In the top of the first Coe retired the first two hitters of the inning, but a double by Leandro Castro got the inning going. Denis Phipps followed with a single to score Castro and Cesar Valera singled to score Phipps. The two-out rally made it 2-0.
In the bottom of the first the Saints responded. Breland Almadova doubled with one out and scored on a Tony Thomas base hit. A wild pitch moved him to second and he reached third on passed ball. Angelo Songco then drew a walk. He would steal second and both runners scored when Trever Adams singled into left-center field to give St. Paul the lead.
Both pitchers settled down in the second, but the offenses would come back alive in the third. Ty Morrison started the inning by laying down a perfect bunt that he beat out for a single. A hit by pitch of Castro put two on with no one out, but Coe then retired the next two batters. It was time for another two-out rally and the Lemurs bats delivered. Valera doubled to score Morrison and both Castro and Valera scored on a single by J.D. Pulfer. That gave the Lemurs their second lead of the game.
The Saints were not to be outdone. In the bottom half of the inning, Angelo Songco singled to start the frame and moved to second on a single by Adams. Hanson walked to load the bases and a walk to Tony Caldwell plated a run and ended the day for Matthew Bywater.
Luis De La Cruz took over but he could not stop the bleeding. Tanner Vavra drilled a double off the wall in right-center, scoring two runs to give St. Paul back the lead. A base hit by Alonzo Harris scored Vavra and it was 7-5 St. Paul Saints.
In the fourth, the Saints looked to cushion their lead. Thomas reached on an error to start the inning. Next up was Songco, who drilled a ball down the line in right field that sent Thomas to third. The throw from right was misplayed by the second baseman and Thomas scurried in to score. Two batters later Hanson singled to move Songco to third and he scored on a fielder’s choice. Hanson would later score when Sam Maus drilled a double down the line in left. That made the score 10-5.
Coe looked great in the fourth and fifth, and it looked like that lead would hold, but he had thrown a lot of pitches earlier in the game, and was wearing down slightly. In the top of the sixth the Lemurs scored three to get right back into the game.
Chavez singled to start the inning and moved to second on a ground out. A base hit by Pulfer chased Coe. Benji Waite came on in relief, but was greeted by a double by Jesus Posso that scored both runners to make it 10-7. A sacrifice by Drew Martinez scored Posso and it was a two-run game.
Once again, the St. Paul Saints responded right away. Luis Pollorena relieved and was greeted by a base hit by Hanson. Pollorena retired the next two batters, but the Saints pulled a rally from the Laredo playbook. Sam Maus walked and Harris followed with a shot down the right field line that he turned into a triple. Both runners scored and the lead was back to four.
In the seventh, Laredo pulled back within one, doing so on just one hit. Castro was hit by a pitch again and Chavez and Valera walked to load the bases with one out. A single by Pulfer scored two runs and that would be it for Waite.
Caleb Thielbar came on to try to stop the rally and was able to do so. However, before doing so he gave up a long fly ball to center field that Harris made an amazing grab on. Valera tagged and made it all the way from second on the sacrifice fly and it was 12-11.
The Saints clung to the lead, but added a little insurance in the bottom of the eighth. Hanson doubled to start the inning and scored on a two out double by Maus. That made it 13-11.
Ryan Rodebaugh came on in the ninth. The All-Star closer retired the Lemurs in order for his 16th save of the season. Coe (8-2) earned the win.
Hanson finished 4-4 with 4-runs scored. Harris added 3-RBI and Songco had 2-hits and 3-runs scored. Adams, Caldwell, Vavra, and Maus each drove in two.
The Lemurs got 3-hits and 4-RBI from Pulfer. Posso drove in 3. Valera was 2-4, with 2-runs and 2-RBI.
The St. Paul Saints welcome the Sioux City Explorers for three-games starting Monday night. Mark Hamburger (10-0, 2.75) goes for the Saints. Game time is 7:05.
By Robert Pannier