Saltdogs Rebound Behind Shairon Martis to Blank Saints, 4-0
Saturday night, the Lincoln Saltdogs and St. Paul Saints took to the field as both teams are in the thick of the American Association playoff race. A night after the Saltdogs fell just short, losing 4-3, Shairon Martis evened the series between the two, blanking the Saints for seven-innings in Lincoln’s 4-0 victory. The victory leaves the team a half-game behind the Gary Southshore RailCats in the Central Division.
Robert Coe opposed Martis and both pitchers kept the game a scoreless affair through the first three frames. In the fourth Lincoln would take the lead. Cesar Valera singled with one out and scored when Juan Martinez delivered a clutch two-out double to make it 1-0.
In the top of the sixth, the Saints got a rally started when Alonzo Harris led off with a double and Ryan Cavan followed by drawing a walk. Tony Thomas then grounded to Martis, but he made an error that allowed all three runners to reach. The bases were loaded with no one out, but Martis bore down, striking out David Bergin, before getting a pop out and a fly out to end the inning.
Martis’ Houdini impression got the stadium rocking and his team came out in the bottom half of the inning and responded by increasing his lead. Austin Gallagher singled with one out and Valera followed with a walk to put two on. A single by Jon Smith scored Gallagher. A misplay by the Saints center fielder allowed both Valera and Smith to score and it was 4-0.
That was plenty enough runs for Martis (9-7). The Saltdogs starter went 7-innings, allowing 4-hits, 2-walks, and no runs, while striking out 9. Of his 107-pitches, 73 went for strikes. Martis struck out the side in the first, and fanned eight through the first four-frames.
J.R. Bunda came on in the eighth and allowed a hit and a walk, but no runner scored. Evan Reed came on in the ninth and pitched a scoreless inning to finish off the shutout.
Robert Coe (11-3) took the loss despite pitching a solid game. The right-hander went 6-innings, allowing 5-hits, 3-walks, and 2-earned runs. He struck out 7. When Coe struck out his fifth batter of the game he became the franchise leader in strikeouts with 319.
Valera was 1-3 with 2-runs scored for the Lincoln Saltdogs. Jon Smith was 2-3 with a run and an RBI. Harris was 3-4 for the Saints. He was the only St. Paul player to have more than one-hit in the game.
The rubber match of the three-game set is tomorrow evening. First pitch will be 5:05.
By Robert Pannier