Seven-Run Fifth Propels Saints Past Milkmen, 11-8
SIOUX FALL, SD (July 18, 2020) – The St. Paul Saints and Milwaukee Milkmen came into Saturday night at Sioux Falls Stadium with the top two ERA’s in the American Association. While runs were tough to come by on Friday night that wasn’t the case on Saturday as the Saints got a career high four RBI from Troy Alexander and a seven-run sixth propelled them to an 11-8 victory.
With the game tied at four in the sixth the Saints sent 10 men to the plate and scored seven runs. Max Murphy led off with a walk and JC Millan reached on a bunt single. Starter Taylor Ahearn departed for former Saints pitcher Jake Matthys. Justin Byrd moved the runners over with a sacrifice bunt and that brought up Alexander. The rookie, in his first full season, drilled a three-run blast over the right field wall, his third of the season, giving the Saints a 7-4 lead. Mikey Reynolds, who came in hitting a league leading .442, roped a triple to left-center. Nate Samson was hit by a pitch and Chesny Young’s sacrifice fly made it 8-4. Chris Chinea set a career high by doubling for the third consecutive game which scored Samson making it 9-4. John Silviano finished off the onslaught with a two-run homer to right, his second of the season, putting the Saints up 11-4.
They needed all of those runs because the Milkmen, who fought back all night long, scored two in the seventh when David Washington singled and Zach Nehrir hit a two-run homer to right, his second of the season, cutting the Saints lead to 11-6.
In the eighth Christian Correa singled to center and Aaron Hill walked for the fourth time in the game. A single by Brett Vertigan loaded the bases. An RBI fielder’s choice by Dylan Tice and a sacrifice fly from Mason Davis made it a three-run game. The Saints turned to closer Jameson McGrane, who got the final four outs of the game to pick up his fourth save of the season.
The Saints jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first two innings as Mikey Reynolds led off the bottom of the first with a double to left. He finished 2-4 with a double, triple, RBI and two runs scored and is now hitting .447. Samson followed with an RBI double to right-center giving the Saints a 1-0 lead. After a wild pitch on ball four to Chesny Young sent Samson to third, Chinea’s sacrifice fly made it 2-0.
In the second Murphy led off with a walk and Justin Byrd singled him to third. Alexander came through with an RBI single to right making it 3-0. Alexander went 2-4 with a career high four RBI and a run scored. With runners at the corners Reynolds made it 4-0 on an RBI fielder’s choice.
The Milkmen battled back against Saints starter Ryan Zimmerman. In the third, Zimmerman hit the leadoff batter Correa and walked Hill. A single by Vertigan loaded the bases. Zimmerman got out of the inning with minimal damage after an RBI fielder’s choice from Tice and finished off the inning by getting Davis to ground into an inning ending double play.
In the fourth, Washington made it 4-2 with a solo shot to right, his first of the season.
The Milkmen tied it in the fifth when Zimmerman lost command of his pitches. After a leadoff single by Correa, Zimmerman walked the next three hitters forcing in a run and making it 4-3. With the bases loaded, Zimmerman retired the next two hitters, but then walked Nehrir to force in the tying run. Zimmerman departed as Spencer Jones got Adam Brett Walker to ground out sharply to Young at third to end the inning. Jones would get the win by going 1.1 shutout innings of relief.
The same two teams meet in the finale of the three-game series on Sunday evening at Sioux Falls Stadium. The Saints send RHP Matt Quintana (1-1, 4.50) to the mound against Milkmen RHP Ryan Kussmaul (0-1, 14.73). The game can be heard on KFAN Plus, 96.7 FM and seen on aabaseball.tv.
By Sean Aronson, St. Paul Saints