Troy Marks Dominates Saints Bats, Laredo Lemurs Win 9-3
It was a game that started out beautifully for the St. Paul Saints as they scored two runs early and starter Dan Johnson was pitching well through the first three frames. However, the middle innings of the game were not kind to the Saints starter as the Laredo Lemurs scored eight-runs in the fourth through the sixth innings on their way to a 9-3 victory. That gave the visitors a split of the first two games of this three-game set.
Neither team was able to score in the first, but in the second the Saints would benefit from the long ball. Angelo Songco led off the inning by drawing a walk, and Trever Adams followed with his first homerun since joining the Saints. The two-run homer cleared the left field wall and staked his team to the early lead.
Johnson had looked brilliant through the first three frames. He did not allow a hit and the Lemurs seemed to have no answers for the knuckleballer, but that changed in the fourth.
Leonardo Castro started the fourth with a single and then stole second. Johnson retired the next two hitters and it looked like Johnson would get out of the inning with no issues, however, Cesar Valera drew a walk and J.D. Pulfer followed with a double into left that scored Castro to cut the lead in half. Next up was Jesus Posso, who lined a single into left scoring both runners, and suddenly the Lemurs had the lead.
In the fifth, they would extend that lead. A single by Drew Martinez was erased when he was cut down trying to steal third. Ty Morrison struck out, but Castro kept the inning alive with a walk. Phipps then singled to left to put runners at first and second still with two outs. Next up was Zane Chavez who singled into left field. Castro easily came around and it should have been runners at the corners with two outs, but the left fielder threw into second and Phipps continued to round third and came into score. That made it 5-2.
In the sixth more mistakes by the Saints allowed the game to get out of hand. Gene Escat relieved and walked the first two hitters of the inning, and a fielder’s choice would put runners at the corners with one out. Next up was Martinez, who hit a ball down to first. Songco threw home but not in time and the runners scored to make it 6-2. A ground out moved both runners into scoring position. With Castro at the plate, the ball hit off of Aaron Gretz’s glove and rolled to the back stop. Anthony Rondon easily scored on the passed ball. Gretz threw to the plate trying to keep Martinez from scoring, but his throw was wild and Martinez crossed the plate to make it 8-2.
In the seventh, the Lemurs would get one more run. Mike Strong retired the first two batters of the inning, but Posso crushed a 3-1 pitch over the left-center field fence to make it 9-2.
While the Lemurs bats were scoring runs seemingly at will, Marks was shutting down the Saints. He allowed two hits in the third, and it looked like St. Paul would add to their lead at the time, but he induced a double-play to end the threat. That would be the last hit he would allow until the sixth. Marks (3-4) went 6.1-innings, his longest outing of the year. He allowed 4-hits, 2-walks, and 2-earned runs. He struck out a season high 9.
The Lemurs bullpen would continue to dominate as Luis De La Cruz and Kamakani Usui kept the score 9-2 through the eighth. Angelo Songco got one more run for St. Paul in the ninth when he led off the bottom half of the frame with his 12th homer. That would be the final run of the contest as Laredo won 9-3.
Posso finished 3-4 with a run and 3-RBI for Laredo. Martinez and Phipps each had 2-hits and Castro scored 2-runs. Adams had his biggest game since becoming a St. Paul Saint, going 3-4 with a run and 2-RBI. He also had a double and a homerun.
The rubber match of this series is tomorrow at 5:05. Robert Coe (7-2, 3.84) goes for the St. Paul Saints. He will be opposed by Barrett Loux (3-1, 1.62).
By Robert Pannier