Robert Coe Blanks Wingnuts; St. Paul Saints Win 7-0
The St. Paul Saints limped home, reeling from a road trip that saw them lose seven of eight games which allowed the Winnipeg Goldeyes to cut into the Saints’ North Division lead, down to 3.5-games entering Monday’s affair with the Wichita Wingnuts. The Saints were in need of a big lift, especially after their bullpen was taxed during the trip and after finding out that starters Eric Veglahn and Dan Johnson had their contracts purchased. The team needed a big outing from starter Robert Coe, who came through, tossing eight-shutout innings to lead the team to the 7-0 victory.
Coe was masterful from the start, avoiding the kinds of problems that normally led to him getting into trouble, like walks and high pitch counts. The right-hander allowed two-hits in only one inning, which came in the third, but a strike-out, throw ‘em out double-play ended the inning.
The most impressive part of the outing was that Coe worked quickly and threw strikes. He had only two batters who worked the count full through the first six frames, and he did not issue his first walk until there were two outs in the seventh.
Meanwhile, Coe’s offense was touching up Wingnuts starter Anthony Capra and reliever Jesse Pratt. Capra looked sharp in the first, but he has walked a lot of batters this season, and that came to haunt him in this contest as well. In the bottom of the second, the lefty walked the first four batters of the inning, plating Nate Hanson. Alonzo Harris delivered a sacrifice fly later in the inning to make it 2-0.
In the bottom of the third, Tony Thomas led it off, and he took a 1-2 pitch from Capra and drilled it over the left field fence for his 12th homer of the year. That extended the lead to three.
In the fourth, the left-hander would walk the first two hitters of the inning and his evening was over. Capra (0-3) allowed only 2-hits in 3-innings of work, but the 7-walks helped lead to 5-earned runs.
Jesse Pratt relieved Capra in the fourth but he could not stop the bleeding. Harris sacrificed to move both runners into scoring position and Breland Almadova followed with a pop up to shallow right field that Christian Stringer made a nice play on. Stringer turned and fired to third, but Ryan Cavan tagged and scored easily to make it 4-0. A base hit by Thomas scored Tanner Vavra to extend the lead to five.
In the top of the sixth, Pratt retired the first batter of the inning, but Harris launched his 14th homer of the year to extend the lead to six. A solo homer by Tony Caldwell in the seventh, his 12th, made it 7-0, and that is how it would end.
Coe (11-2) would be done after pitching eight outstanding innings. He finished with 6-hits and 2-walks allowed. He also struck out 9. After the game, the right-hander explained that his success was a little surprising on this night.
“I felt like crap before the game. I had a really bad migraine, but I just went out there and challenged them. My fastball and my slider were really sharp early, and when I knew I could throw all my pitches for strikes then I knew I was going to have a good night.”
The Saints got big offensive nights out of Alonzo Harris and Tony Thomas. Harris was a perfect 3-3 with a run scored and 2-RBI. Thomas was 3-5 with a run and 2-RBI. Caldwell was 2-3 with a run scored and a run driven in. No Wingnuts player had more than one-hit.
Game 2 of this three-game set is tomorrow. Alex Boshers (10-3, 3.46) goes for the Wichita Wingnuts. Corey Williams (1-1, 2.77) will make his second start for the Saints. It is an early afternoon affair, with first pitch coming at 12:05.
By Robert Pannier