Saints Head to American Association Finals with Incredible Come from Behind Victory, 9-7
ST. PAUL, MN - The obit was written, but the St. Paul Saints rose from the dead. Not once, but twice on Tuesday night in Game 5 of the North Division Championship Series in front of 2,263 at CHS Field. They trailed 5-0 after three and 7-5 going into the bottom of the eighth, but somehow found a way to defeat the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks 9-7. It is the first time in franchise history that the Saints came back from down 0-2 to win a series and just the third time a team has done it in American Association history. The Saints will now meet the Sioux City Explorers in the American Association Finals which will begin Wednesday night at 7:05 at Mercy Field at Lewis and Clark Park.
With the game tied at five in the eighth the RedHawks got a leadoff infield single from Correlle Prime. Leo Pina then unloaded on a two-run homer to center, his first of the series, to put the RedHawks up 7-5.
The Saints, who have come back time and time again this season, did it once again in the bottom of the eighth. With hard throwing righty Brent Jones on the mound in his third inning of relief, Josh Allen led off with a single to left. Chesny Young followed with a single down the right field line that moved Allen to third. The RedHawks went to their bullpen for Relief Pitcher of the Year Geoff Broussard. A wild pitch scored Allen and sent Young to second making it 7-6. Broussard would walk Chris Baker and Blake Schmit's sacrifice bunt moved the runners up to second and third. Dan Motl was intentionally walked to load the bases. That brought up Michael Lang. He hit a grounder to short, but as the ball got to Pina he picked up his glove enough and the ball went under his glove into left-center allowing Young and Baker to score with Motl going to third as the Saints led 8-7. Brady Shoemaker's sacrifice fly gave the Saints a two-run cushion at 9-7.
In the top of the ninth Tanner Kiest closed it out by striking out the side to send the Saints to their eighth Finals series.
Things didn't look good for the Saints as the RedHawks sent nine men to the plate in the third and scored five runs. The first four batters reached as Brennan Metzger led off with a double to left. Tim Colwell's tapper to the third base side went for an infield single and put runners at the corners. A wild pitch by Chris Lee scored Metzger making it 1-0. Devan Ahart followed with an RBI single to center giving the RedHawks a 2-0 lead. Chris Jacobs walked and, with one out, Pina made it 3-0 with an RBI double off the wall in right-center. Lee left the game for Mike Devine who got the first batter to pop out before giving up a two-run single to Carlos Garcia to make it 5-0.
Devine was masterful after giving up the hit as he went 3.1 scoreless innings of relief allowing one hit while striking out four.
The Saints tied the game in the sixth as Shoemaker led off the inning with a solo homer to left, his second of the playoffs, to make it 5-1. John Silviano followed with a single to center and Jeremy Martinez walked. After Michael Tamburino struck out Allen, he delivered a ball to Young and was removed for Joe Filomeno. He gave up an RBI single to Young to make it 5-2. Baker then delivered a three-run home run to left tying the game at five.
The Saints are now 4-7 in Game 5's and it is their first Game 5 victory since the 2011 Divisional Series against the Winnipeg Goldeyes.
This will be the second time the Saints and Explorers will meet in the playoffs with the Explorers winning three-games-to-one in the 2015 Divisional Series.
Game 1 of the American Association Finals is Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. at Mercy Field at Lewis and Clark Park. The Saints send RHP Landon Beck (0-1, 7.20) while the Explorers are TBA. The game can be heard on KFAN Plus, 96.7 FM.
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