Hamburger Dominates, Saints Hang On For 4-3 VictoryST. PAUL, MN August 26, 2016
In St. Paul Saints history strange things have happened at Haymarket Park in Lincoln, NE. The Saints have struggled as a franchise, but perhaps 2016 is a different story. They took three of four against the Saltdogs in their ballpark in late July and behind a dominating performance from Mark Hamburger the Saints defeated the Saltdogs 4-3 on Tuesday night. The win improved the Saints to 57-34, lowered their magic number to clinch a playoff berth to five and to seven to clinch the North Division. The number could go down by another one depending on the Laredo Lemurs game against Joplin and the Winnipeg Goldeyes game against Sioux City.
Hamburger dominated for eight innings. In the second he gave up back-to-back singles to Cesar Valera and Austin Gallagher, but got Juan Martinez to ground into an inning ending double play.
In the third Jon Smith led off with a single, but Tyler Urps’ sacrifice bunt was popped up. Hamburger then struck out Robby Kuzdale and Smith was thrown out trying to steal for a double play to end the inning.
With the Saints leading 1-0 in the seventh Hamburger gave up a leadoff double to Brandon Jacobs. He advanced to third on a fly out by Curt Smith. Hamburger then got Valera to fly out to shallow right holding Jacobs at third. Gallagher roped a line drive to right-center, but Almadova was able to race after it and grab it for the final out.
After striking out the side in the eighth, Hamburger retired Kuzdale to leadoff the ninth with the Saints up 4-0. Going for the American Association record of seven complete games, Hamburger gave up a solo homer to Luis Alen, his seventh of the season. After giving up a single to Jacobs, Hamburger was removed after 127 pitches, 83 for strikes. Hamburger would go 8.1 innings allowing two runs on seven hits while striking out eight and improving to 12-4, the first pitcher to reach 12 wins in the American Association this season. Closer Ryan Rodebaugh came in, but on the first pitch to Curt Smith he crushed a two-run homer, his 17th of the season, to cut the lead to one. Rodebaugh would get the next two hitters on strikeouts, earning his league leading 23rd save of the season.
The Saints took a 1-0 lead in the second on a solo homer from David Bergin, his 17th of the season and second with the Saints.
With the Saints leading 1-0 in the eighth Tanner Vavra ended an 0-25 slump with a single to left. He was sacrificed to second and scored on a bloop single to right by Alonzo Harris to make it 2-0. Harris would steal his second bag of the night, his 39th of the season tying his own franchise high set last season. Ryan Cavan would then hit a comebacker and Harris was caught off the bag at second. As he tried to get back to second pitcher Ryan O’Sullivan threw the ball into center and Harris raced around third and scored to make it 3-0.
In the ninth Nate Hanson led off with a solo homer, his 12th of the season, off of reliever Brad Orosey to make it 4-0.
The same two teams meet Wednesday night in game two of a three game series at Haymarket Park. The Saints send RHP Robert Coe (11-2, 4.54) to the mound against Saltdogs RHP Shairon Martis (8-7, 3.54). The game can be heard on Club 1220 KLBB.