Rough Fifth Does In Saints In 8-5 Loss To ExplorersST. PAUL, MN July 26, 2016
What started as a match-up of rookie left handers turned into a battle of the bullpens. The St. Paul Saints bullpen allowed six runs in the fifth while the Sioux City Explorers allowed just one run over the final five innings as the Saints fell 8-5 on Tuesday night at CHS Field in front of 8,162.
With the Saints up 4-2 in the fifth left-hander Mike Strong came out of the bullpen to take over for starter Eric Veglahn. Strong, who entered play with a 1.64 ERA in his five appearances with the Saints, walked the leadoff hitter Ino Patron. Derrick Robinson doubled him to third and Michael Lang drove them both home with a double to tie the game at four. After Nate Samson flew out to center that sent Lang to third, Tommy Mendonca gave the Explorers a 5-4 lead with an RBI single. Back-to-back singles by Tim Colwell and LeVon Washington loaded the bases and finished the night for Strong. Benji Waite came out of the bullpen and was greeted by a two-run single from Ralph Henriquez to make it 7-4. A wild pitch allowed the eighth run to score, the sixth of the inning. Strong was charged with all six runs in 0.1 innings allowing five hits while walking one.
The Saints tried to comeback against All-Star reliever Rob Wort, who took over for starter James Walsh. Tony Thomas led off the bottom of the fifth with a double and scored on a single from Angelo Songco to cut the deficit to three. With two outs Dan Johnson walked. Tanner Vavra hit a flare down the right field line that landed fair. Vavra tried to stretch it into a double, but was thrown out before Songco could cross the plate, ending the inning.
The Saints managed just one hit the rest of the way against Wort, Jacob Kuebler and All-Star closer Connor Overton.
The Saints jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first when Brady Burzynksi walked and moved to second on a single by Breland Almadova. A fly out by Thomas sent Burzynski to third and scored on a single by Songco.
The Explorers got to Eric Veglahn in the fourth when Colwell singled and Henriquez hit a two out, two-run homer, his fourth of the season, to give the Explorers a 2-1 lead. Veglahn would not come out for the fifth after experiencing dizziness. He went 4.0 innings allowing two runs on four hits while walking two and striking out three.
The Saints regained the lead in the bottom of the inning, all with two outs. Johnson walked and Tanner Vavra singled to center putting runners at first and second. An RBI double by Sam Maus scored Johnson to tie the game at two. Brady Burzynski followed with an RBI single scoring Vavra and Maus scored when center fielder Tim Colwell’s throw to the plate went to the backstop giving the Saints a 4-2 lead.
The same two teams meet in the finale of the three game series on Wednesday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. The Saints send RHP John Straka (8-3, 5.42) to the mound against Explorers RHP Graham Johnson (5-3, 4.54). It is Office Olympics presented by AARP. The game can be seen on the Saints Cable Network, cable access channels in the Twin Cities, and heard on Club 1220 KLBB and in the ballpark on 87.9 FM.