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Grand Finale: Saints Slam Canaries with Late Comeback, 8-4

August 17, 2018 - American Association (AA) - St. Paul Saints News Release

ST. PAUL - The St. Paul Saints had not hit a grand slam since July 4, 2016. Tied in the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded, Zach Walters broke that drought with a home run to right, propelling the Saints to an 8-4 victory over the Sioux Falls Canaries on Thursday night at CHS Field in front of 8,316. The win improves the Saints to 48-36 and puts them alone in first place in the North Division by a 0.5 game, with 16 to go. Gary SouthShore did not play on Thursday night and the Saints have a 1.5 game lead on the second playoff spot as Fargo-Moorhead has yet to finish.

With the Saints down a run in the bottom of the eighth and facing the Canaries closer Kyle Schepel, who had not allowed an earned run in 5.2 innings against the Saints in 2018, Joey Wong started things with a one-out double. Max Murphy singled in Wong to tie the game at four. He finished the night 3-5 with an RBI and a run scored. Then Kyle Barrett, who also had a three-hit game and extended his own hitting streak to 13, singled to put runners on first and second. With two outs and first base open, Brady Shoemaker was intentionally walked to get to Walters, who had just eight hits in his last 10 games. On a 2-0 count, Walters ripped a Schepel heater over the home run porch in right to give the Saints their final lead of the night.

After scoring 30 runs through the first three games of the series, the Saints failed to capitalize with runners in scoring position in the series finale. They racked up another 15 hits, but left 10 men stranded, having to rely on their power to push across early runs.

With two outs in the bottom of the third inning, Burt Reynolds slammed a fastball from Canaries starter Dylan Thompson off the back of the Saints bullpen to tie the game at one. It was Reynolds' 17th home run of the season and 13th as a Saint.

Dante Bichette Jr. then delivered the first pitch of the fourth over the left field fence and, two batters later, Justin O'Conner homered to dead center to give the Saints a 3-1 advantage. Bichette Jr.'s sixth long ball of the year also extended his hitting streak to 16 games. O'Conner, returning from a three-game absence due to illness, went 2-4, hitting his 11th home run of the year, driving in one and scoring one. The four home runs on the night tied a season high.

From there, the offense fell silent as they turned the lead over to starting pitcher Trevor Foss. Despite walking a season-high five batters, Foss pitched 6.1 innings, allowing three runs (two earned), while striking four in his fourth quality start for the Saints.

The Canaries drove Foss from the game in the seventh after he allowed the first two runners to reach and then, after a Jordan Smith sacrifice, Dan Motl cut the deficit to one with an RBI single. Beck Wheeler relieved Foss and, with two outs, threw a wild pitch, which brought home Maxx Garrett to tie the game at three.

Jordan Dean would give the Canaries the lead an inning later, leading off the eighth with a solo shot to left. The 4-3 Canaries advantage would set the stage for the bottom of the frame and Walters heroics.

The Saints begin a two-game set on Friday Night at CHS Field against the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks. The Saints send RHP Jake Matthys (6-7, 4.88) to the mound against RHP Michael Tamburino (6-5, 4.02). It is an Xcel Energy Friday Night Fireworks featuring the music of Led Zeppelin. The game can be seen on the Saints Cable Network, cable access channels in and around the Twin Cities, and heard on Alt 93.3 FM.

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