A Night of Firsts as Saints Lose Third Straight 5-4
WICHITA, KS (August 24, 2015) - Hopefully, the St. Paul Saints are getting their worst baseball out of their system now before the playoffs begin on September 9. For the first time all season they Saints officially have a losing streak and Mike Zouzalik recorded his first career loss. The Saints squandered a 4-1 lead late and lost 5-4 to the Wichita Wingnuts on Monday night at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium for their third consecutive loss, the first time it has happened all season.
With the Saints up 3-1 in the seventh they tacked on an insurance run on a bizarre play. With one out Nate Hanson singled to left. Steve Nikorak then hit a grounder that went under the glove of shortstop Taylor Smart, for an error, as Hanson raced to third. Left fielder Harrison Kain went to pick up the ball and as he grabbed it, fell on the turf allowing Hanson to score making it 4-1.
In the bottom of the seventh the Saints committed two errors of their own. With two outs and starter Jeff Shields cruising Jayce Ray hit a hot smash back to the mound off the foot of Shields that ricocheted towards first baseman Angelo Songco. He flipped the ball backwards as Shields raced over to cover, but before he could get to the bag the ball went into foul territory allowing Ray to race to third. David Espinosa then tripled to right-center and the relay throw went off the glove of second baseman Ryan Lashley, hitting shortstop Anthony Phillips in the side of the head (he would stay in the game), allowing Espinosa to score to make it 4-3. Shields went 7.0 innings allowing three runs (two earned) on eight hits while walking two.
In the bottom of the eighth the Saints turned to set-up man Mike Zouzalik, who was 11-0 in his career. He had not allowed a run and just one hit in his last 9.2 innings pitched. Facing the team he pitched for last year that he helped win a championship with he walked the leadoff man T.J Mittelstadt. After getting a fly ball off the bat of John Nestor he walked the seven and eight hitters, Harrison Kain and pinch hitter Taylor Oldham. He struck out Leo Vargas, but gave up a two-run single to Nick Van Stratten that proved to be the game winner.
The bright spot for the Saints came in the second inning when Ian Gac, who in his first at bat off the disabled list since July 30, clubbed a solo homer to left-center, his ninth of the season, to make it 1-0.
In the fifth Hanson led off with a double and, with two outs. Alonzo Harris drilled a two-run homer to left, his 11th of the season, to give the Saints a 3-0 lead.
The same two teams meet in the second game of the three game series Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m. at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. The Saints are TBA while the Wingnuts send RHP Tim Brown (9-2, 3.40). The game can be heard on Club 1220 KLBB.
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American Association Stories from August 24, 2015
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