Saints Back on Top, Move into Tie for First Place with 9-1 Victory over RailCats
ST. PAUL - The St. Paul Saints took a six-run lead into the ninth inning on Thursday and hung on to win by two. There would be no such rally on Friday night at CHS Field as the Saints blitzed the RailCats, 9-1, in front of 8,792. The win improves the Saints to 44-34 and are now tied for first place in the North Division with the Railcats. They opened up a 1.5 game lead for the second playoff spot, by virtue of Fargo-Moorhead's 4-2 loss against Sioux Falls, with 22 games left.
Following a strong starting pitching performance by Eddie Medina, Chris Nunn carried the torch for the Saints. The left-hander twirled 6.0 innings allowing one run on three hits, while walking one and striking out six. He earned his fifth win of the season.
Nunn pitched out of a second and third two-out jam in the second inning, getting Andy De Jesus to fly out to center fielder Kyle Barrett. From there, he would retire a string of seven batters and keep the RailCats silent until the fifth.
The only RailCats run came after a leadoff double from Will Savage, who advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Cole Fabio's groundout.
Relievers Beck Wheeler and Zack Jones upheld the dominance on the mound, combining for five strikeouts in the final 3.0 innings. Jones registered the final two punchouts with runners on second and third to end the ballgame.
The Saints sluggers stayed hot and once again thrashed the RailCats starting pitching. Despite left-hander Jeff McKenzie pitching a complete game, the Saints tagged him for all nine runs (eight earned) on 12 hits, including three home runs.
The first round-tripper came in the first inning, a no-doubt blast off the bat of Burt Reynolds, his 16th of the season and 12th since joining the Saints, to make it 1-0.
In the third inning, with a runner on first, Brady Shoemaker roped his ninth home run, third in as many days, into the bullpen to give the Saints a 3-0 advantage. Shoemaker became the 25th Saint to hit a home run in back-to-back-to-back games and the first since Reynolds did it earlier this season from July 7-9. He also extended his hitting streak to 14 games.
Nathaniel Maggio got in on the home run derby in the fourth inning, belting a solo shot to right field. It was his sixth of the season and fourth in a Saints uniform, extending his own hitting streak to 12.
However, after the RailCats nearly completed a miraculous comeback on Thursday, the Saints would put the nail in the coffin in the bottom of the eighth inning with a five-run rally.
Sending 10 batters to the plate, Shoemaker began things with a single. Zack Walters would line a double out to right-center field and Dante Bichette Jr. was intentionally walked to load the bases. With one out, Justin O'Conner doubled down the left-field line to score two and then Joey Wong singled home Bichette Jr. Max Murphy finished the rally with a line drive base hit as Wong came into score.
The same two teams meet for game three of four on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. at CHS Field. The Saints send RHP Trevor Foss (3-2, 3.46) to the mound against RHP Gabe Perez (4-1, 3.34). It is Best in Sow presented by Minnesota Pork. 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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