Robert Coe Leads St. Paul Saints with Complete-Game 1-Hit Shutout
The Lincoln Saltdogs will be happy if they never face Robert Coe ever again. A week after he nearly became the first St. Paul Saints pitcher to toss a one-hitter, Coe faced the Saltdogs again, and for seven innings he held the visitors to one lone walk. The no-hitter unfortunately came to an end, but Coe came away with another pitching gem, tossing a one-hit shutout to become the first Saints pitcher in franchise history to do so.
Coe was opposed by Kevin McGovern, and through the first two innings neither team was able to generate much offense. That changed in the bottom of the third. Dan Kaczrowski led off the inning with a single and Alonzo Harris replaced him on the base path when he hit into a fielder’s choice. Willie Argo beat out an infield single to put two on but, on a double-steal attempt, Harris was caught at third, leaving Argo at second with two outs.
Vinny DiFazio was then hit in the left knee with a pitch that caused the stadium to hold its collective breath for a moment. The Saints star was down on the ground for several minutes before getting up and walking it off. Next up came Angelo Songco who swung at the first two pitches from the Saltdogs starter, but came up empty-handed. Two pitches later Songco demonstrated a brilliant piece of hitting, going with the pitch and muscling it the other way over the left field fence for a three-run home run. That gave Songco 64 RBI, tying him for the American Association lead in that category with DiFazio.
The St. Paul Saints would add solo runs in three other innings. Anthony Phillips led off the fourth with a double and moved to third on a ground out by Kaczrowski. Harris drilled a pitch deep to right that was caught on the warning track, but Phillips scored. In the fifth, Mike Kvasnicka hit a solo home run, his tenth, with two outs to make it 5-0. In the seventh Songco took over the RBI lead when he doubled the other way down the left field line, scoring Argo with the game’s final run.
Songco continues to make a case for the American Association MVP. He finished 2-4 with a run scored and 4 RBI. His home run was the 12th of the season, tying him with DiFazio.for the team lead
While the Saints first baseman was the story on offense, Coe was making history. He retired the first 19 Lincoln hitters, carrying the perfect game into the seventh. The run came to an end when Aaron Payne drew a full-count walk. The St. Paul starter retired the final two hitters of the inning, however, to maintain the no-hit bid.
In the eighth that was finally broken up. Curt Smith grounded the first pitch of the inning into the hole at short. Phillips made a great play to get to the ball, set and threw to first but Smith just beat the ball to the bag for the Saltdogs only hit. The CHS Field crowd erupted with applause for their starter, who got a fly ball and a double-play line drive to end the inning.
In the ninth Coe was looking to become the first Saints pitcher to toss a complete game one-hitter. A week ago he was in the exact same situation against Lincoln, but gave up a ninth inning single to settle for a complete game two-hitter. That was not going to be the case on Wednesday night. The right-hander got Jeremy Hamilton to ground back to the mound for the first out, and Tucker White flew out to right field for the second out. Matt Forgatch followed, and took two quick strikes before fouling off two pitches, working the count to 2-2. He then hit a sharp grounder to Kaczrowski who fired to first for the final out of the game. History was made.
Following the game manager George Tsamis had nothing but praise for his starter. “That was just a great game. He threw lots of strikes, and really attacked their hitters well. Just a great performance.”
The complete game victory gives Coe (7-3) two such games in his last two starts against. He has allowed just three hits in those 18 innings. Wednesday night he struck out five and lowered his ERA to 2.90, ninth best in the league.
By Robert Pannier