Zimmerman Dominates, Schmit's Walk-Off Single Gives Saints 1-0 Victory
ST. PAUL, MN - It was everything you wanted in a playoff game. Pitching dominated the night. The St. Paul Saints, who worked all season to get home field advantage, utilized it with a walk-off infield single by Blake Schmit in the bottom of the ninth for a 1-0 victory over the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks on Sunday evening at CHS Field in front of 1,608. The win sends the North Division Championship Series to a winner take all Game 5 on Monday night at 7:05 p.m. at CHS Field.
With the game scoreless in the ninth, J.R. Bunda took the mound for the RedHawks. He walked the leadoff hitter Josh Allen. Chesny Young sacrificed him to second and a groundout by Chris Baker sent Allen to third. That brought up Schmit. On a 1-2 pitch, Schmit hit a slow grounder to third that Joe Becht charged, double clutched and his throw to first was late and wide of first as it skipped by Correlle Prime while Allen crossed home plate for the walk-off winner. The Saints had seven walk-off wins in the regular season with Schmit getting a walk-off infield single against the RedHawks on June 13.
The Saints handed the ball to rookie right-hander Ryan Zimmerman. The University of St. Thomas graduate, in his second professional season, pitched perhaps the finest performance of his career. Over the course of 7.1 innings he only allowed a runner to reach second base twice and third once. In the second inning Chris Jacobs led off with a single to center. After a strikeout of Correlle Prime, Leo Pina hit a bouncer back to the mound and was thrown out at first as Jacobs took second. Zimmerman ended the inning by getting Wilfredo Gimenez to line out to center.
In the fourth, Zimmerman walked Devan Ahart with one out, but struck out Jacobs and Prime to end the inning.
The biggest trouble Zimmerman ran into came in the fifth. With two outs Carlos Garcia walked and Joe Becht doubled down the right field line putting runners at second and third. Zimmerman would strike out Brennan Metzger to end the inning.
In the sixth, Tim Colwell led off the inning with a single to left off of Zimmerman. Ahart flew out and Jacobs, who was 4-7 with two homers in the series, grounded back to the mound and Zimmerman started a 1-6-3 inning ending double play.
The Saints had their best opportunity to score in the seventh when Baker reached first on a dropped third strike. Schmit singled to center moving Baker to second. A wild pitch moved the runners up to second and third, but with the infield in Dan Motl grounded out to third and Michael Lang struck out to end the inning.
Zimmerman started the eighth and struck out Garcia before being removed. He went 7.1 scoreless innings allowing three hits while walking two and striking out a career high 10. He threw 118 pitches, 74 strikes.
It was just the second 1-0 win in the playoffs for the Saints and first at home. They also won 1-0 on September 8, 2016 in Game 1 of the Divisional Series at Winnipeg.
This is just the second time in franchise history the Saints have trailed 0-2 in a best-of-five and forced a Game 5. They did so back in the Divisional Series in the Northern League in 1997. They lost the first two games at home to the Duluth Superior Dukes before winning Games 3 and 4 in Duluth. They lost Game 5 of that series 3-2. The Saints are 3-6 in Game 5's in franchise history. The last time they won a Game 5 was in the 2011 Divisional Series against the Winnipeg Goldeyes.
Game 5 is Monday night at CHS Field at 7:05 p.m. The Saints send LHP Chris Lee (0-1, 2.46) to the mound against RedHawks RHP Ryan Williams (1-0, 1.50). The game can be heard on KFAN Plus, 96.7 FM and seen on the Saints Cable Network, cable access channels in and around the Twin Cities.
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