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Esch Sets Career High with 10 K's, Allen Collects Four Hits, Saints Blank Wingnuts 2-0

June 5, 2018 - American Association (AA) - St. Paul Saints News Release

WICHITA, KS - That was the start Jake Esch was looking for. He entered the game with an ERA of nearly 10, but looked like the ace of the staff on Tuesday night in Wichita as he set a career high with 10 strikeouts. He got a little help from his defense in the sixth and the Saints blanked the Wichita Wingnuts 2-0 at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. The win improved the Saints to 12-6 on the season, 6-3 on the 10-game roadtrip, and earned Saints manager George Tsamis, career win number 996.

Esch was dominant through the first five innings allowing just three singles and a walk and didn't allow a runner to reach second. In the sixth, however, he needed some big help from his defense and he got it. With the Saints leading 1-0, Zach Nehrir took the first pitch of the inning and doubled to center off of Esch. With Abel Nieves at the plate, Nehrir took off to third before Esch delivered the ball, Nieves hit a chopper towards third that had to be fielded by the shortstop Noah Perio Jr. because third baseman Dante Bichette Jr. went to cover the bag. Nieves reached on the infield single and Nehrir stood at third. With Fernando Perez at the plate Nieves took off before Esch delivered to the plate, but this time Esch stepped off and threw to second. His throw was high and Nieves slid in safely. Esch would get Perez on strikes for the first out of the inning. The Saints elected to walk Tony Thomas to load the bases in order to get to the .175 hitting John Nester. That's when the play of the game occurred. With second baseman Josh Allen shaded a little up the middle, Nester hit a broken bat soft liner that appeared to be destined for center field. Allen, however, dove to his right and made a spectacular diving catch, got up and touched second for the inning ending double play. Esch went 7.0 scoreless innings allowing five hits while walking two and striking out a career high 10. His previous career high was nine on August 20, 2013 while with High-A Jupiter.

The Saints got the lone run they needed in the first when Allen led off the game with a single to left. With one out Brady Shoemaker singled to right putting runners at first and second. A walk to Jayce Boyd loaded the bases. Noah Perio Jr. then grounded out to second that scored Allen to make it 1-0. Allen finished the night 4-5 with a double and a run scored. It was the fifth, four-hit game of his career and first since June 17, 2017 when he was with Evansville.

The game stayed that way until the ninth when Kes Carter extended his hitting streak to nine games with an opposite field homer to left, his third of the season. The Saints have scored a run in the ninth inning or later in eight of the nine games on the roadtrip.

Tom Wilhelmsen earned the save by pitching a scoreless ninth and striking out two, including pinch hitter Logan Trowbridge, who represented the tying run.

The same two teams meet in the finale of the three-game series on Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. The Saints send RHP Vinny Nittoli (2-1, 2.08) to the mound against Wingnuts LHP Corbin Osburn (2-0, 0.82). The game can be heard on Alt 93.3 FM.

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