Behind Impressive Outing By Straka Saints Sweep Blasters With 3-2 WinST. PAUL, MN July 6, 2016
The team with the best record in the American Association, the St. Paul Saints, did exactly what they were supposed to do against the team with the worst record in the American Association, the Joplin Blasters, although it wasn’t easy. They finished off the three-game sweep, with an impressive performance by starter John Straka, 3-2 on Wednesday night at CHS Field in front of 8,078. The Saints won for the fourth straight time, improved to 32-15 on the year and head into their division showdown with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks with a 7.0 game lead on the second place team.
The Chaska native, Straka, was superb all night long allowing just one base hit and one walk through the first three innings. His lone mistake came in the fourth. With the Saints up 2-0 Geraldo Valentin reached on an infield single and Charlie Valerio, who would finish a triple shy of the cycle, hit a two-run homer to right, his fifth of the season, to tie the game at two. After a Willie Cabrera infield single followed the home run, Straka struck out the next two hitters, and on the second strikeout Cabrera was caught off the bag at first and thrown out in a rundown.
Straka would pitch into the eighth and got the first hitter, KC Huth, when he hit a lined shot off the glove of a diving Songco, the ball caromed to second baseman Alonzo Harris and he threw to Straka covering the bag. Straka would depart after walking the next hitter Oscar Mesa. Benji Waite came on and struck out Mitch Glasser and got Valentin to ground out to end the inning. Straka improved to 6-2 going a season high 7.1 innings allowing two runs on six hits while walking two and striking out six.
In the ninth Ryan Rodebaugh, who earned the save on Wednesday in the completion of the resumed game from Tuesday, gave up a leadoff single to Valerio, but retired the next three hitters and earned his league leading 13th save of the season.
The Saints offense did just enough against Blasters starter Frank del Valle. In the second Songco lined a single into left-center to lead off the inning. On a fly out to left by Tony Thomas Songco tagged and went to second. That proved to be big as he scored on a two out single from Tony Caldwell to give the Saints a 1-0 lead.
In the third Alonzo Harris singled with one out and Breland Almadova walked. A Nate Hanson fielder’s choice put runners at the corners with two outs. Songco beat out a slow roller to second scoring Harris to give the Saints a 2-0 lead.
In the fourth with the game tied at two Caldwell led off with a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. With two outs Harris singled to center scoring Caldwell that proved to be the difference in the game. Harris went 3-4 with an RBI, a run scored and a stolen base.
The Saints improved to 8-5 in one run games, 7-1 in their last eight one run contests and have now swept four series.
The Saints go to Newman Outdoor Field for a four game series against the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks beginning Thursday night at 7:02 p.m. The Saints send LHP Eric Veglahn (0-2, 6.75) to the mound against RedHawks RHP Taylor Stanton (3-3, 3.59). The game can be heard on Club 1220 KLBB.