Tim Colwell Leads Six-Run Seventh to Give Explorers 13-5 Victory
The two best teams in the American Association last season moved to Sioux City Monday night after playing three games in St. Paul last week. The St. Paul Saints took two of the three games in the set, and the Explorers were looking to return the favor. They got off to a good start when they used a six-run seventh inning to turn a back and forth affair into a one-sided one where they would win 13-5. The victory by Sioux City ended the Saints four-game win streak and eight-game road winning streak.
The Saints were able to grab the lead against Explorers starter James Walsh in the top of the first. Alonzo Harris was the first batter of the game and, for the second time if his last three games, Harris homered to start the game, his eighth of the year.
The Explorers got the run right back in the bottom of the inning, plus an additional one to take the lead. Matty Johnson walked against Cody Scarpetta to start the inning and then stole second, his ninth of the year. Michael Lang followed with a single to put runners at the corners with no one out. Noah Perio followed with a single to score Johnson and tie the game and Nate Samson had a sacrifice fly for an RBI to give his team the lead. The RBI began an unusual run producing day for the Explorers shortstop.
St. Paul tied the score in the top of the second. With two down Tony Caldwell blasted his sixth homer of the season to tie the score at two. Caldwell was named the American Association Player of the Week earlier in the day, and responded with his fourth homerun in three days.
In the top of the third, St. Paul would take their second lead of the game. Almadova walked with one out and moved to second on a single by Angelo Songco two batters later. Tony Thomas then singled to score Almadova and give the Saints the 3-2 lead.
Sioux City tied the score right away. In the bottom half of the inning Ralph Henriquez doubled to start the inning. Back-t0-back walks loaded the bases and Samson hit another sacrifice fly to score Henriquez.
In the top of the fourth, the St. Paul Saints would take the lead again. Chad Christensen singled with one out and Maxx Garrett followed with his first homer of his professional career to put the Saints back on top 5-3.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Explorers cut that deficit in half. Tim Colwell doubled with one out. He stole third, his eighth of the season, and scored on a ground out by Brendan Slattery.
It would stay 5-4 until the bottom of the seventh when the Sioux City Explorers blew the game open. Cody Wheeler had looked great in the sixth, but they would get to him in the seventh. Three straight hits by Johnson, Lang, and Piero loaded the bases with one out and brought a call to the St. Paul bullpen.
Gene Escat took over, but he could not stop the rally. Samson walked, driving in his third run of the game, and the Sioux City shortstop had not even recorded an official at-bat yet. An error allowed Tommy Mendonca to reach with Lang scoring and the bases were still loaded. Escat retired the next hitter, but Colwell followed with a triple to clear the bases. He then scored on a wild pitch to make the score 10-5.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Sioux City Explorers added three more runs. Land walked and Perio rapped a single to get the inning started. Samson then recorded his first official at-bat of the game, doubling to score both runners. That made the score 12-5. Jarek Cunningham would bring home Samson with a sacrifice fly and Sioux City had extended their lead to eight, which is how the game would end.
Tayler Scott (1-0) earned the victory with two perfect innings of relief. Wheeler (0-1) took the loss. Samson finished just 1-1, with 2-runs scored and 5-RBI. Perio and Colwell had 3-hits apiece and Colwell drove in 3.
Harris finished 2-5 with a run scored and an RBI for St. Paul. Songco and Thomas also had 2-hits for the Saints.
Game 2 of the three-game set is tomorrow at 7:05. Robert Coe (3-1, 4.40) starts for the St. Paul Saints against Ryan Zimmerman (2-3, 7.66).
By Robert Pannier