Harris Provides Fireworks, Hamburger Tosses Complete Game As Saints Win 9-2ST. PAUL, MN July 4, 2016
With one swing of the bat Alonzo Harris sent the CHS Field crowd of 9,973 into a frenzy. With the steady hand of one of the best pitchers in franchise history, Mark Hamburger brought them to their feet at the end. Harris’ grand slam and Hamburger’s complete game propelled the St. Paul Saints to a 9-2 victory over the Joplin Blasters on Monday night. The win improved the Saints to 30-15 on the season, best record in the American Association.
With the Saints trailing 1-0 in the third Harris singled with one out. Breland Almadova walked to put runners at first and second. The two tried a double steal, but Harris was thrown out at third. Nate Hanson walked and Almadova and Hanson moved up on a wild pitch. Angelo Songco dumped a two – run single into right field to give the Saints a 2-1 lead.
The big blow by Harris came in the fourth as Willie Argo reached on a one out single. Tony Caldwell followed with a single to right-center that put runners at first and second. With two outs Maxx Garrett walked to load the bases. That brought up Harris. On a 1-1 pitch Harris crushed a line drive over the left field wall for a grand slam, his 10th home run of the season, to give the Saints a 6-1 lead. It was the first grand slam for the Saints this season and first since July 18, 2015 when Anthony Phillips did it at Sioux Falls. It was the first grand slam ever at CHS Field and the first at home for the Saints since August 19, 2013 when Donald Blunt did it against the Winnipeg Goldeyes. Harris finished the night 3-4 with four RBI, two runs scored and two stolen bases.
That was more than enough for Hamburger. He retired the side in order in the first, third, sixth and eighth. He gave up an unearned run in the second, but it could have been worse. Willie Cabrera led off with an infield single to short and Charlie Valerio singled him to second. An error by Harris at second on a ground ball scored Cabrera and sent Valerio to third with nobody out. Hamburger, however, got Edwin Gomez to fly out to shallow left and then induced a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Cory Morales to end the inning.
The lone earned run Hamburger gave up came in the seventh when he gave up a solo homer to Gomez, his second of the season. Hamburger threw 123 pitches, 89 for strikes and allowed two runs (one earned) while striking out four. He improved to a perfect 8-0 while lowering his ERA to 2.77. The complete game was his third of the season and eighth in his Saints career, second most in franchise history only behind Charlie Ruud’s 10 from 2005-09.
The same two teams meet in game two of the three game series on Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m. The Saints send RHP Robert Coe (5-1, 386) to the mound against Blasters RHP Alex De La Cruz (0-1, 10.57). It is Hello From the Other Side to Adele. The game can be seen on the Saints Cable Network, cable access channels in the Twin Cities, and heard on Club 1220 KLBB.