Tony Thomas 4-RBI Powers St. Paul Saints to 7-5 Victory
A night after the Kansas City T-Bones blasted four homeruns in a 10-2 victory, the St. Paul Saints were looking to flash a little lumber of their own. That they did. Tony Thomas was the chief culprit, driving in four and scoring twice in leading the Saints to a 7-5 win.
Neither team was able to plate a run in the first, but in the second the long ball would be pivotal in both teams scoring. In the top of the second, Antony Gallas continued his hot start, drilling his fourth homerun of the season over the left field fence. That was his second homer of the series.
In the bottom half of the inning the Saints responded right away. Angelo Songco was the first hitter of the inning and he got the rally started by driving a double down the line in right field. Next up was Thomas, who drilled a two-run homer over the left field wall to give St. Paul the lead. That homer was Thomas’ third of the season.
In the fourth, the St. Paul Saints doubled their score. Songco was the first batter of the inning and, once again, he doubled, this time off the right-center field wall. Thomas followed by hitting a ball to center that dropped in. The center fielder charged in initially, then realized that he needed to stop. This caused him to slip and the ball bounced past him. Songco scored and Thomas ran hard in for the triple. A ground out by Mike Gilmartin scored Thomas and the Saints were up 4-1.
Three more runs in the bottom of the fifth would stake the Saints to a 7-1 lead and chase Kansas City starter Jeremy Strawn. Alonzo Harris led off the game with a double and Breland Almadova walked to put two on with no one out. Next up was Nate Hanson, who grounded a single into left to load the bases. That was it for Strawn.
Josh Tols relieved for the T-Bones and walked Songco to score Harris and extend the lead to four. A sacrifice fly by Thomas scored Almadova and a clutch two-out single by Tanner Vavra brought home Hanson to make it a six-run game.
This contest looked like it was over, but the T-Bones have too much meat in their lineup. They came right back with four runs in the top of the sixth. Jake Blackwood walked to get it started and moved to second on a base hit by Gallas. Saints starter John Straka retired the next two batters, but Cole Leonida kept the inning alive with a base hit that scored Blackwood. Next up was Robby Kuzdale, who drilled a shot over the left-center field fence for a three-run home run to make it 7-5. Tet game was suddenly a nail-biter.
Straka (2-0) was done after six, and Saints Manager George Tsamis had to turn to his bullpen, who has let him down early this season. That would not be the case tonight however. Caleb Thielbar took over in the seventh and pitched quite well. The left-hander threw two outstanding innings, allowing a lone single, while striking out three.
It was an outing that drew the praise of his manager. “Caleb pitched really well tonight. His fastball was outstanding and had good movement. It was a really good outing for him.”
In the ninth, St. Paul turned to closer Ryan Rodebaugh, looking for his third save of the season. The right-hander retired the first two hitters of the inning, but a seeing-eye single by Brett Wiley was followed by an infield single by Vladimir Frias bringing the go-ahead run to the plate. Next up was Blackwood, who hit the ball hard looking for the gap in left-center, but Brady Burzyski raced over to make the play and end the game.
Straka (2-0) earned the victory. Rodebaugh earned his third save of the season. Strawn (0-2) took the loss.
Gallas went 2-4 with 2-runs and an RBI. That makes him 5-9 in the first two games of this series, with 5-runs scored and 3-RBI. He has also homered twice.
Thomas finished 2-3 with 2-runs scored and 4-RBI. He is also red hot in this series, going 5-8 through the first two games. Songco was als0 2-3, and he scored twice and drove in a run.
These two teams will continue their four-game set tomorrow. Jordan Cooper (0-0, 0.00) will go for the Kansas City T-Bones. The St. Paul Saints have not named their starter yet. Game time is 7:05.
By Robert Pannier