Saints Can Clinch Division Title Thursday, Magic Number Down To One With With 5-3 Victory Over ExplorersST. PAUL, MN August 12, 2015
SAINTS CAN CLINCH DIVISION TITLE THURSDAY, MAGIC NUMBER DOWN TO ONE WITH 5-3 VICTORY OVER EXPLORERS
SIOUX CITY, IA (August 12, 2015) – The St. Paul Saints beat the unbeatable to reduce their magic number down to one. Facing the league’s top pitcher in Patrick Johnson, who entered play 11-0 and the top ERA in the league at 1.78, plus a Sioux City Explorers team that had won 14 in a row, the Saints got the 5-3 victory reducing their magic number down to one. In the process they set a franchise record with their 30th road win. The Winnipeg Goldeyes defeated the Sioux Falls Canaries thus the Saints magic number is reduced by one. A win by the Saints or a loss by the Goldeyes on Thursday and the Saints clinch the North Division.
The Saints jumped on Johsnon in the first inning when Willie Argo walked and Vinny DiFazio hit a two-run homer to left, his 14th of the season extending his hitting streak to 12, giving the Saints a 2-0 lead.
Just like the Explorers did Tuesday night, however, they scored in the second and tied it up with a two spot. Ryan Court hit a solo homer to left, his sixth of the season and fourth in as many games, to make it 2-1. Tommy Mendonca followed with a single and moved to second on a single by Matt Koch. A fielder’s choice by Tim Colwell put runners at the corners and Matty Johnson’s sinking fly ball to center just fell out of the reach of a diving Alonzo Harris that scored Mendonca to tie the game at two.
In the fourth Mike Kvasnicka doubled with one out, moved to third on a single by Ryan Lashley and scored on a fielder’s choice by Joey Paciorek to give the Saints a 3-2 lead.
The Saints took a 4-2 lead in the fifth when Argo hit a solo homer to left, his ninth of the season.
The biggest moment of the game came in the fifth when the Explorers had first and third and nobody out, but Kramer Sneed pitched out of the jam. He struck out Rene Tosoni and got the number four hitter Brock Kjeldgaard to pop out to short. After a walk to Noah Perio Jr. loaded the bases, Sneed retired Court on a fly out to right.
In the sixth the Explorers cut the lead to one when Mendonca led off with a double, moved to third on a fly out and scored on a sacrifice fly from Colwell to make it 4-3. Sneed went 5.2 innings allowing three runs on 10 hits while walking one and striking out five while improving to 12-2.
The Saints chased Johnson after the sixth and he allowed a season tying high four runs on six hits while walking one and striking out five.
The Saints got a big insurance run in the seventh when Argo singled, moved to second on a groundout and scored on a two-out single by Kvasnicka.
Mike Zouzalik was incredible out of relief pitched 2.1 perfect innings of relief while striking out two and Ryan Rodebaugh pitched a perfect ninth for his league leading 20th save of the season.
The same two teams meet in the finale of the three game series on Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. at Lewis and Clark Park. The Saints send RHP Jeff Shields (11-1, 3.13) to the mound against Explorers LHP Ryan Strufing (1-2, 3.77). The game can be heard on Sportsradio 105 The Ticket.