St. Paul Saints Walk Away with 3-2 Victory Over RedHawks
The St. Paul Saints entered Saturday’s game against the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks looking to break the franchise record for consecutive wins at home. To do so, they would have to defeat Cody Scarpetta, who just a few weeks ago was in the rotation for the Saints. The RedHawks had the role of spoiler all set for them, but 11-walks by Scarpetta through the first three innings enabled St. Paul to score three-runs while recording just one-hit, and they would set the record in the 3-2 victory.
The Saints sent Dan Johnson to the hill. The former Major Leaguer was making his second start in St. Paul, looking to revitalize his career as a pitcher. In the top of the first, Fargo-Moorhead jumped out in front against the knuckle-baller. K.D. Kang singled to start the inning and Ryan Pineda followed with a walk. Johnson retired the next two hitters, but Brian Humphries singled to center to score Kang to give the RedHawks the early 1-0 lead. Dustin Geiger followed with a single to bring home Pineda to extend the lead to two.
Scarpetta had loaded the bases on walks in the first, but was able to strike out Nate Hanson to preserve the lead. In the second he would walk the bases loaded again but, once again, figured out a way to end the threat, this time striking out Angelo Songco to end the inning.
Scarpetta had lived dangerously through the first two innings, but had come away unscathed. In their third he would not be so lucky. The Fargo starter retired Alonzo Harries, then walked the next four batters. Aaron Gretz earned the RBI that drove in Tony Thomas to make it 2-1. That was plenty enough for the RedHawks as Scarpetta was done for the evening. He had thrown 85 pitches in 2.1 innings, 53 of which were balls.
The only thing positive that could be said is that the Saints had not recorded a hit. Jose Almarante took over and that was not to be the case any longer. Breland Almadova worked the count to 2-2 before Almarante threw a wild pitch to score Hanson. Almadova then followed with a single to score Argo and the Saints had the lead, 3-2.
Amazingly, that was all the scoring that would occur. Johnson had struggled in the first, but he pitched very well from that point on (1-1). The right-hander went 5.2-innings, allowing 3-hits, 4-walks, and 2-runs to earn his first victory in a St. Paul uniform.
Caleb Thielbar came in with one on and two outs in the sixth and struck out Kes Carter. He then pitched two more shutout innings to preserve the lead. Ryan Rodebaugh came on in the ninth and struck out two for his American Association leading 14th save.
Despite not being able to hold the lead, Almarante pitched brilliantly for the RedHawks. He allowed 4-hits and a walk in 5.2 innings of relief. He did not allow a run and struck out 2.
The Saints only generated 4-hits on the night. Fargo-Moorhead was not much better, recording five with Kang being the only hitter in the game to get 2-hits.
The victory gave the St. Paul Saints 10 straight wins at home, surpassing the record that had been set in 1994 and duplicated in 1995 and 2015. Scarpetta set an American Association record for walks in a game with 11.
The two teams finish up their three-game series tomorrow. The Saints will look for the sweep by sending John Straka (7-2, 5.18) to the hill against Taylor Stanton (3-4, 4.02). Game time is 5:05.
By Robert Pannier