July 16, 2017 - American Association (AA) - St. Paul Saints
ST. PAUL, MN - For the first time since June 9 the St. Paul Saints don't hold sole possession of first place in the North Division. In one of the wildest games in a while the Saints scored three in the ninth to send it to extra innings, but lost 17-15 in 11 innings on Saturday night at CHS Field in front of 8,753. The loss drops the Saints to 31-23 and by virtue of the Winnipeg Goldeyes victory the Saints and Goldeyes are tied for first.
With the Saints down four going to the eighth Tony Thomas hit his second home run of the night, a solo shot over the batters eye in center field becoming just the second player to accomplish the feat (Joe Dunnigan of Fargo-Moorhead did it in the very first game at CHS Field on May 21, 2015), and 13th of the season to make it 15-12.
In the bottom of the ninth the Saints managed just one hit off of RedHawks closer Casey Weathers, but it was all they needed. Weathers had trouble finding the strike zone and it started with a one out walk to Jon Kristoffersen. With two outs Weathers walked three straight: Mitch Delfino, Brady Shoemaker and Anthony Gallas, the latter forcing in a run to make it 15-13. Nate Hanson then lined a two-run single into center scoring Delfino and pinch runner Tim Colwell to tie it at 15. With the winning run at second, Thomas struck out to end the inning.
The game stayed tied until the 11th when Jeff Malm, working his fourth inning of relief, gave up a one out single to Yhoxian Medina. Devan Ahart then hit a grounder to short. Kristoffersen fired to second to get the out, but Thomas had trouble getting the ball out of his glove and his throw to first was too late. Keury De La Cruz blooped a single to left moving Ahart to third. Controversy ensued on the next play when Chris Grayson hit a slow grounder to short. Kristoffersen charged, fielded it cleanly and fired to first. Grayson was ruled safe as Ahart scored to make it 16-15. Replays showed the first baseman Delfino had the ball in his glove before Grayson stepped on the bag. A wild pitch moved the runners up to second and third and Malm intentionally walked Josh Mazzola to load the bases. Malm then walked K.D. Kang to force in another run giving the RedHawks a two run lead. Malm retired the first nine men he faced until the 11th and went 4.0 innings allowing two runs on three hits while walking two and striking out three.
In the bottom of the 11th Gallas walked with two outs, but Hanson struck out to end the game.
The offenses were the story all night long as the RedHawks scored at least a run in their first four at bats while the Saints scored at least a run in their first five. For the RedHawks seven of the nine starters collected a hit, eight of nine had an RBI and eight of nine scored a run. Charlie Valerio was 4-7 with three RBI while Grayson and De La Cruz each collected three hits and had three RBI. Devan Ahart, who led off the game with a home run, scored four runs.
For the Saints, they hit four home runs with Brady Shoemaker, Gallas and Thomas, who hit two, each hitting their 13th of the season. Six of the nine starters collected a hit, five of nine had an RBI and seven of nine scored a run. Shoemaker, Hanson and Thomas each collected three hits while Hanson and Thomas had four RBI.
It's the first time since August 14, 2013, at home against the Sioux Falls Canaries, in which they Saints scored double-digit runs and lost. They lost 13-10 in 12 innings that day.
At 4:42 minutes the game was the fourth longest in franchise history and the longest home game since August 28, 2009 against Sioux City. That game lasted 4:45 and the Saints won 6-5 in 14 innings.
The same two teams meet on Sunday evening at 5:05 p.m. at CHS Field in the finale of the three game series. The Saints send RHP Benji Waite (2-1, 1.38) to the mound against RedHawks RHP Zach Prendergast (1-0, 2.84). It is German Night presented by Minnesota Pork plus the first 1,500 fans receive a Saints team card set. The game can be seen on the Saints Cable Network, cable access channels in and around the Twin Cities area, and heard on Club 1220 KLBB.