Dan Johnson, The Hitter, Has Big Night As Saints Come Back From Five Down To Win 9-7ST. PAUL, MN July 29, 2016
One night after tossing 7.0 scoreless inning, Dan Johnson was the designated hitter for the St. Paul Saints. He smashed two home runs, including the game tying two-run blast, as the Saints came back from five runs down to win 9-7 on Friday night against the Lincoln Saltdogs at Haymarket Park. The Saints are now a season high 25 games over .500 at a league best 46-21.
With the Saints trailing 7-2 going into the sixth Johnson led off the inning with a solo homer to right, his first of the season, to make it 7-3. Aaron Gretz followed with a double and Breland Almadova doubled him home to make it 7-4. Starter Casey Barnes was removed for reliever Brad Orosey. He retired the first two hitters he faced before Brady Burzynski reached on an infield single to third. Tony Thomas came through with an RBI single to make it 7-5.
In the seventh Trever Adams led off with a walk and Johnson crushed the first pitch he saw from Orosey over the right field wall for a two-run homer, his second of the night and season, to tie the game at seven. Gretz then took the first pitch he saw and drilled it over the right field wall, his third of the season, giving the Saints an 8-7 lead.
The Saints tacked on an insurance run courtesy of Johnson in the eighth. With two outs Tanner Vavra, who entered the game in the bottom of the third when Angelo Songco left the game in the top half with an injury, dropped down a bunt single. Adams was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second. Johnson then hit a pop up to third, but third baseman Connor Teykl drifted into foul territory as the ball came back towards fair territory and dropped in for a single allowing Vavra to score. Johnson finished the night 4-5 with two home runs, four RBI and three runs scored.
The Saints bullpen was spectacular over the final 4.0 innings as Mike Strong started it off in the sixth, but it was right fielder Breland Almadova who made the biggest play of the night. With the Saints down 7-5 Strong gave up a leadoff single to Teykl who then advanced to third on a single by Robby Kuzdale. Luis Alen lifted a fly ball to right that Almadova caught and fired a one hop strike to the plate to nail Teykl. Strong got Brandon Jacobs to ground out to end the inning.
Benji Waite went 2.0 perfect innings of relief striking out three while Ryan Rodebaugh picked up his league leading 18th save of the season with a perfect ninth.
The Saints jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second courtesy of poor defense by the Saltdogs. Johnson led off with a single to right. With one out Alamdova hit a comebacker, but Barnes’ throw to second went into centerfield allowing Johnson to go to third. Almadova then stole second and the throw down to second went into centerfield allowing Johnson to score making it 1-0. Sam Maus laid down a suicide squeeze to first that was fielded by Luis Alen, but no one covered first and Maus had an RBI single to make it 2-0.
Robert Coe, who was attempting to become the winningest pitcher in Saints history, started strong not allowing a hit in the first 3.0 innings. In the fourth he gave up a solo homer to Brandon Jacobs, his fourth of the season, to make it 2-1.
In the fifth the wheels came off for Coe. A leadoff single by Teykl was followed by a one out walk to Alen. Jacobs singled to load the bases. Rene Leveret tied the game with an RBI single to left. After a force out at home, Coe walked Tyler Urps to force in the go ahead run and make it 3-2 Saltdogs. Jon Smith then crushed a grand slam to right, his ninth of the season, to give the Saltdogs what looked to be a comfortable 7-2 lead, but turned out to be the largest comeback win for the Saints this season.
The Saints pounded out 18 hits with nine of the 10 players collecting at least one hit and Alonzo Harris going 4-6.
The same two teams meet in game three of a four game series on Saturday night at 6:35 p.m. The Saints send RHP Mark Hamburger (11-0, 2.51) to the mound against Saltdogs RHP Ryan O’Sullivan (3-3, 4.75). The game can be heard on Club 1220 KLBB.