Trey Vavra Leads Chicago Comeback Over Saints, 7-6
It has been a tough start to the 2018 American Association season for the Chicago Dogs, but one huge bright spot has been the play of Trey Vavra. That was on display on Saturday night, as the Chicago first baseman drove in two runs in the eighth inning to help lead the Dogs come from behind victory over the St. Paul Saints, 7-6. Zach Racusin had 3-hits for the Dogs and Kaohi Downing closed out his sixth game of the season.
St. Paul would take the lead in the top of the first-inning. Kes Carter and Max Murphy led off the game with back to back singles against Chicago starter Scott Barnes. Brady Shoemaker followed with a base hit up the middle that brought Carter home and Murphy scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Dan Johnson.
The Chicago Dogs responded with three runs in the bottom half of the inning. St. Paul starter Jake Esch retired the first two batters of the frame, but Trey Vavra followed with his sixth home run of the season to cut the deficit in half. Joe Benson then drew a walk before Matt Dean followed with his third homer of the year to put Chicago on top by a run.
In the bottom of the second, the lead became three courtesy of another home run. Zach Racusin singled with one down and, two batters later, Jonathan Moroney crushed his third home run of the season over the right field wall to make it 5-2.
St. Paul would get one of those runs back in the top of the third. Johnson walked with two outs and moved to third on a double by Dante Bichette, Jr. A base hit by Noah Perio, Jr. brought Johnson home to cut the deficit to two.
In the top of the fifth, the Saints would trail by just one. With one down, Shoemaker hit his third home run of the season to make it a 5-4 ballgame.
That started a run of three successive innings where the Saints would score a run. In the top of the sixth, Perio led off with a single but was erased on a double-play. JJ Gould walked to keep the inning alive before Connor Olson singled to put two on with two down. Carter drew a walk and then a balk would be called on Tyson Perez, allowing Gould to score to tie the game.
In the top of the seventh, St. Paul took their first lead since the first-inning. Shoemaker singled to start the frame and moved to third on a Johnson double into left field. An intentional walk loaded the bases before Jayce Boyd hit a sacrifice fly to drive home Shoemaker to put the Saints on top, 6-5.
In the bottom of the eighth, Chicago would rally. Jake Mathys came on for the Saints and gave up a one-out double to Ryan Wagner. Michael Falsetti followed by drawing a walk before Moroney lined a single into right field for a base hit. Wagner came around third looking to score, but the throw to the plate gunned him by a mile, putting runners at second and third with two down.
Tom Wilhelmsen came on looking to close out the inning, but he would walk Edwin Arroyo before Vavra singled into center field, driving home two runners to put the Dogs back on top.
In the ninth, Kaohi Downing gave up a single to Johnson to start the inning, but then got a double-play to erase to runner. Perio kept the game going with a single before Richard Prigatano struck out to end the contest.
Trey Vavra finished 2-5 with a run, homer, and 3-RBI. Zach Racusin was 3-3 with a run scored for Chicago. Brady Shoemaker was 3-5 with 2-runs and 2-RBI for St. Paul.
The Chicago Dogs will look for the sweep tomorrow. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05. Connor Root (2-2) will be going for Chicago.
By Robert Pannier