Patrick Johnson Silences Saints bats in 12-1 Explorers Win
You may think of the Sioux City Explorers as a team that manufacturers and scrapes out runs, but they proved Thursday night that they can score runs in bunches, and that is exactly what they did on their way to a 12-1 win over the St. Paul Saints. A six-run third sealed the deal as Patrick Johnson was masterful in limiting St. Paul to just one run in 7.2 innings.
For the second straight night the St. Paul Saints scored first, this time on a solo home run by Angelo Songco to begin the top of the second inning. It was Songco’s second home run of the series.
From there it was déjà vu all over again, as the Explorers came right back in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game. Ryan Court walked to get it started against Saints starter Jeff Shields, and Tommy Mendonca followed with a single that put two on with no one out A sacrifice by catcher Matt Koch moved both runners into scoring position, and Brent Keys followed with a single that scored Court to tie the game. Matty Johnson’s sacrifice fly plated Mendonca and Sioux City had the lead. They would not relinquish it.
In the third the Sioux City Explorers blew the game open. Shields retired the first two hitters of the inning, but an error on a ground ball by Noah Perio kept the inning alive. Court followed with a double that scored Perio and it was 3-1. Mendonca was intentionally walked and Koch doubled, scoring both runners and extending the lead to four. A walk to Brent Keys put two on and Johnson followed with a double that brought home Koch.
That would be it for Shields. Kevin Cravey would enter the game and retire the final batter of the inning but not before giving up a single to Michael Lang that scored Johnson and Keys. That made the score 8-1 and the Saints would not recover.
From there the Sioux City starter took over. After giving up the second inning home run, Johnson retired 17 of the next 20 batters he faced, only allowing three walks. He was absolutely devastating, and St. Paul had no answer for him on this night. In the eighth he struck out the first two hitters, then issued a walk and came out. Johnson went 7.2 innings, allowing just the Songco home run as the only Saints hit on the night. He walked 4 and struck out 8.
While Johnson did not need any more runs, the Explorers bats were not done. In the sixth back-t0-back singles by Lang and Rene Tosoni got the inning started. Reliever Reyes Dorado retired the next two hitters, but Court delivered a two-out single that scored Lang to make it 9-1.
In the seventh Koch singled to begin the frame and scored on a triple by Lang. For the day Lang finished 4-5 with a run and 3 RBI.
In the eighth the Sioux City Explorers plated two more runs. Back-to-back walks to Brock Kjeldgaard and Perio got the inning started and Mendonca brought them both home with a single. That made it 12-1, which was the final score.
Every player in the Sioux City starting lineup but one had at least one hit. Koch was 3-4 with 2 runs and 2 RBI. Court, Mendonca, and Keys each had two hits, with Court and Mendonca both scoring two runs and driving in two others.
Boxscore Provided by the American Association
By Robert Pannier