Tony Thomas Walk-Off Homer Puts Saints One Game from Title Series
For seven-innings Saturday night, the St. Paul Saints had no answers for Winnipeg Goldeyes starter Kevin McGovern. It looked like a two-run fifth was going to be enough to give the visitors the win and a 2-1 series lead. However, immediately after the Winnipeg starter departed the game, the Saints jumped on the Goldeyes bullpen for 2-runs in the eighth, and then Tony Thomas won it with a walk-off homerun to lead off the bottom of the ninth, as the Saints are the team with the 2-1 series lead.
This was a great pitching matchup between two lefties. McGovern walked four batters through the first four innings, but only allowed two-hits and kept himself out of trouble. Williams was living a little bit more on the edge, but he still managed to not allow any runs. That included the third inning, when Winnipeg had runners at first and third with just one out, but the Saints starter got a strike out and a ground out to end the threat.
In the fifth the Winnipeg Goldeyes would finally get the lead. Adam Heisler led off the inning with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice. Willie Cabrera then grounded to short, but Thomas could not get a handle on the ball as Cabrera reached on an error. Next up was Reggie Abercrombie, who blooped a single into left to load the bases. Josh Romanski was the next batter, and he did what he has done to the Saints all season, deliver a big hit, this time singling to right to score two and stake his team to the lead. Williams avoided any further damage by retiring the next two batters to keep the score 2-0.
The Saints looked like they may get them right back in the bottom half of the inning. Back-to-back singles by Alonzo Harris and Tanner Vavra started the inning, and a sacrifice put two runners into scoring position. McGovern then struck out David Bergin before Nate Hanson walked. With the bases loaded, Angelo Songco flew out to end the threat.
McGovern would be pulled after 7-innings. He allowed just 4-hits, walked six, and struck out 9.
Cameron McVey relieved in the bottom of the eighth and gave up a walk and a single to start the inning, and his night was over. Victor Capellan came on and Vinny DiFazio sacrificed to move both runners into scoring position. Ryan Cavan pinch hit and grounded out to first, but that scored *Hanson and moved Songco to third. With Tony Caldwell at the plate, Capellan uncorked a wild pitch, scoring Songco and the game was tied.
In the top of the ninth, Ryan Rodebaugh relieved and retired the side in order. Kyle Anderson came on for Winnipeg in the bottom half of the inning. On a 1-1 pitch, Thomas ripped it over the left field fence for the walk-off homerun, and the Saints were the 3-2 winners.
After the game, Thomas talked about his dramatic game winner. “I knew he was going to challenge me, especially after the first pitch strike. I just waited on it, and I knew it when I hit it that it was out.”
The homerun made a winner of Ryan Rodebaugh. Anderson took the loss. Hanson finished 2-2 with a run. Harris also had 2-hits. Cabrera, Abercrombie, and Heisler were all 2-5 for Winnipeg.
Game 4 will be tomorrow at 5:05. Kody Knaus will go for the St. Paul Saints. He will be opposed by Duke Von Schamann.
By Robert Pannier