August 10, 2017 - American Association (AA) - St. Paul Saints
GARY, IN - The St. Paul Saints don't have five starting pitchers at the moment. On Tuesday night at the U.S. Steel Yard they went bullpen by committee and all four arms did their job as the offense racked up 12 hits, six for extra bases, and defeated the Gary SouthShore Railcats 6-4. The win was the fourth straight for the Saints and they improved to 41-33 and cut the deficit in the Wild Card to 1.5 games and to 2.5 games in the North Division.
Connor Little got his first start in 24 appearances for the Saints and pitched well. He did not give up a run in the first two innings and the two runs he did allow were courtesy of three infield hits. In the third with the Saints up 2-0 Alex Crosby reached on an infield single to second. Crosby moved to second on a ground out and Colin Willis singled to short putting runners at the corners. Kris Goodman made it 2-1 with a single to left.
In the fourth Andy DeJesus blooped a double into left field. With De esus dancing around at second, second baseman Tony Thomas took two steps to the bag as Chase Harris hit a slow grounder to the left of Thomas. He ranged to get it, had no play at first and DeJesus raced home as Thomas spun to make a throw, but couldn't get his balance and wound up holding on to the ball as DeJesus scored. Little went 3.2 innings allowing two runs on five hits while walking two and striking out two.
Jeff Malm was spectacular in relief. He took over with a man at first and two outs in the fourth and Harris stole second and advanced to third on the throwing error by catcher Maxx Garrett. Malm would get out of the inning by getting Crosby to ground out. Malm went 3.1 shutout innings allowing one hit while walking one and striking out two as he earned his first win of the season.
With the Saints leading 6-2 in the eighth Ken Frosch, who pitched 1.2 innings of relief on Monday night, gave up a leadoff single in the eighth to Willis. Kris Goodman followed with a pop up double to shallow right putting runners at second and third. Frank Martinez made it 6-3 with an RBI groundout. With two outs and two on Frosch departed for reliever Vinny Nittoli. He got DeJesus to hit a grounder to second, but Thomas couldn't handle it and the run scored on the error. Nittoli got out of the inning by getting a fielder's choice groundout.
In the ninth Nittoli struck out the leadoff hitter Cole Fabio, but Randy Santiesteban doubled to left-center. Nittoli earned his second save of the season by retiring Willis on a foul out to the catcher Garrett and striking out Goodman. Nittoli went 1.1 shutout innings on one hit while striking out two.
The Saints offense finally found their groove in a tough hitter's park. In the third JJ Gould doubled to left and Nate Hanson extended his hitting streak to 19 games with a broken bat RBI double to shallow left. The 19-game hitting streak is tied for the seventh longest in Saints history. Anthony Gallas' grounder to third went off of Goodman and into left field, for an error, which scored Hanson to make it 2-0.
With the game tied at two in the fifth Tim Colwell led off with a bunt single. He stole second and, with one out, Hanson flew out to left. Left fielder Reggie Wilson threw the ball to third and it went into foul territory allowing Colwell to advance to third. Gallas made it 3-2 with an RBI double and Thomas followed with an RBI single to make it 4-2.
In the seventh Thomas came calling again. After a walk to Gallas Thomas blasted a two-run homer to left, his 14th of the season, which proved to be the difference in the game. Thomas finished the night 3-5 with a home run, three RBI and a run scored.
The same two teams meet in the finale of the three game series on Wednesday night at 7:10 p.m. at U.S. Steel Yard. The Saints send RHP Matt Schuld (0-1, 6.75) to the mound against Railcats LHP Alex Gunn (6-4, 3.75). The game can be heard on Club 1220 KLBB.