St. Paul Saints Losing Streak Ends, Wrigley Has Huge Game: Saints Summary
Nine had been a number looming over the heads of the St. Paul Saints heads ever since yesterday’s game ended, but now nine has a whole new meaning, a good meaning, that will hopefully infuse some life into the team’s playoff chances. The Saints finally snapped their losing streak with a huge late win over the Gary Southshore RailCats. The 9-6 victory not only gave them a much needed win, but it also ended the longest losing streak in team history.
Nine was how far that losing streak had gone. It had been nine long games since the team had put up a “W,” and to do so tonight they needed nine runs to get it done. It was quite an outburst for the team, considering they had scored just seven runs total in the three game sweep at the hands of the New Jersey Jackals. But no time to look backward. The win was a much needed shot in the arm, and now breaths a little life into the team that they still have a chance.
No Saints player had been in a bigger funk than 3B Henry Wrigley. He had been 11-61, a .18o average, and had driven in just three runs in his last 10 games. Tonight he would accomplish that in one swing of the bat. Wrigley had an enormous game, which played a huge role in eliminating what looked like the 1oth straight loss for the team.
The Saints got on the board against the Gary Southshore RailCats right away, when Wrigley doubled to drive home Devin Thaut. The 1-o lead was the first time the Saints had led in a game since the fifth inning of last Thursday’s game against Winnipeg, a span of 31 innings.
In the top of the third St. Paul would add two more. Devin Thaut singled with one out and advanced to second on a ground out by Evan Bigley. Jake Taylor then stepped to the plate and after taking a called first strike, he launched a home run to deep left-center field that made the score 3-0. It was Taylor’s sixth home run of the year.
In the bottom half of the third Saints starter Robert Coe would give the two runs right back. After walking Wally Backman to lead-off the inning, Daniel Pulfer singled. Drew Martinez then bounced into the 6-3 double-play, and it looked like Coe was going to get out of the jam. However, for those who are fans of the St. Paul Saints, they know that there is no bigger nemesis to the team than giving up the two-out rally, and that is what the Saints starter would do. Zac Mitchell followed with a single that scored Backman, and after Coe’s errant pick-off attempt advanced Mitchell to third, Ryan Babineau singled to plate Mitchell. Just like that the RailCats had the two runs right back, and only trailed by one.
In the fourth Coe unraveled. He got the first out of the inning, but then walked Josh Romanski and Jose Garcia. Backman then followed with a single that loaded the bases. To say that a cloud of impending doom was setting over the Saints dugout might be like saying it gets a little chilly in Minnesota in January. When a team loses nine in a row, the expectation starts to become that something will happen to cost that team the game. If that is what Saints players were feeling, it soon became justified. Coe’s first pitch to Pulfer was a ball. The second one was deposited over the outfield fence for a grand slam, and a 6-3 Gary lead. It just seemed inevitable that the lead would not hold.
From there RailCats starter Dustin Crenshaw seemed in complete control. He retired the Saints in order in the fifth and sixth inning, and in the seventh, after an error and a walk put runners on first and second with two outs, he got Vinny DiFazio to popout to the catcher for the third out. The 1oth loss in a row seemed like it was on its way, and there was nothing that could be done about it. That may be what many thought, but it just wasn’t the case.
As quickly as Coe had lost his command in the fourth, Crenshaw found himself in a similar situation in the eighth. Thaut, Bigley and Taylor all singled to start the inning, loading the bases for Wrigley. While Wrigley had not performed well in these situations of late, he was ready to deliver tonight. Just like in the first inning, the third baseman took a strike, and then deposited the next pitch to the wall in center field to clear the bases and tie the score. With four RBI he had matched his total for the previous 13 games combined. The Saints were tied, but the rally was not over.
Crenshaw was relieved by Ethan Gibbons, but he struggled as well. Gibbons walked Angelo Songco, and then gave up a single to Joe Bonfe that loaded the bases again. There was still no one out and a sacrifice fly could put the Saints back on top. Brachold had much more planned however. He doubled to the wall in left field, clearing the bases, and the Saints were up 9-6.
The six-run rally had St. Paul on top, but could they hold it? Was the losing streak coming to an end? The way their bullpen was performing, there was no doubt that it was.
Coe left after the four-run fourth inning and the game was turned over to the bullpen. Ben Hughes, MacKenzie King, Mikey Mehlich and Dan Sattler then combined to go five scoreless innings to keep the RailCats bats in check. The outing allowed the Saints to rally for the win and earned King his first win of the season and Sattler his 19th save.
While the bullpen and Wrigley played a huge part in the victory, the play of Devin Thaut cannot be overlooked. The lead-off man was 3-5 with three runs scored, and he started every rally the Saints had. He had a huge impact on the game, and was instrumental in them breaking the streak.
By Robert Pannier
Senior Baseball Editor
Member of the IBWAA