Staying Alive, Saints Force Game 4 With 3-1 Victory Over ExplorersST. PAUL, MN September 12, 2015
STAYING ALIVE, SAINTS FORCE GAME 4 WITH 3-1 VICTORY OVER EXPLORERS
ST. PAUL, MN (September 12, 2015) – The St. Paul Saints weren’t about to have their historic season end with a sweep at the hands of the Sioux City Explorers. In front of an electric crowd of 7,498 the Saints gutted out a 3-1 victory and forced a Game 4 in the best-of-five American Association semi-final at CHS Field on Sunday evening at 5:05 p.m. The Saints now trail the series two games to one.
With an inspirational video message from former Saints player Kevin Millar prior to the ballgame recalling his Red Sox improbable comeback from 3-0 over the New York Yankees in 2004, the Saints came out inspired. After Saints starter Dustin Crenshaw retired the Explorers in order in the first, the Saints jumped on John Straka. Alonzo Harris hit a ground ball up the middle to start off the bottom of the first. With one out and Harris running, Espinosa looped a single into right-center to put runners at the corners. After Vinny DiFazio popped out, Angelo Songco blooped a single into left-center scoring Harris to give the Saints a 1-0 lead.
Crenshaw, who was 14-2 with a 2.43 ERA in the regular season, but 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA in two games against the Explorers, was on point all night. The first hit he gave up came in the third when Matt Koch reached on a long single to the warning track in left. Left fielder Willie Argo made a great play to cut the ball off before it got to the wall and threw a strike to second preventing Koch from taking the extra base. With two outs, and Koch at second, Matty Johnson lined a single to left, but Koch was held at third. Crenshaw got Michael Lang to strike out to end the inning.
In the fourth Crenshaw ran into trouble again as former Minnesota Twin Rene Tosoni led off with a single and Brock Kjeldgaard followed with a single to put runners at first and second. Crenshaw, however, got Noah Perio to hit a grounder to Nate Hanson at third, who stepped on the bag at third for the force out. Crenshaw then got Ryan Court to ground into an inning ending double play.
The Saints tried to build on their 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth. Anthony Phillips led off with a single to right. Argo sacrificed him to second which brought up Alonzo Harris. He hit a little pop up to shallow right that second baseman Court went out to catch, but the ball went in and out of his glove. Phillips took off, but right fielder Lang threw out Phillips trying to go to third.
In the sixth Crenshaw made his lone mistake of the night when Tosoni hit a two-out solo homer to right, his first of the playoffs, to tie the game at one.
In the bottom of the sixth, however, the Saints regained the lead. David Espinosa led off with a hustle double to right-center. DiFazio lined a single into left putting runners at the corners. Songco came through again with a two-run double over left fielder Brent Keys’ head to give the Saints a two run lead. Songco has all six runs driven in for the Saints in the series.
In the seventh Crenshaw retired the first two hitters he faced before Tommy Mendonca reached on a fielding error by Songco at first. Crenshaw would strike out Koch to end the inning. Crenshaw tossed 7.0 innings allowing one run on five hits while walking one and striking out five.
American Association Rookie of the Year Mike Zouzalik pitched a perfect eighth and in the ninth the American Association leader in saves, Ryan Rodebaugh, came on to close it out. He gave up a leadoff single to Tosoni and then walked Kjeldgaard. Perio flew out to center for the first out and Rodebaugh got Court looking on strikes. With the tying runs aboard and two outs Rodebaugh retired Mendonca on a foul out to third to pick up his first save of the playoffs.
Game 4 of the best-of-five American Association semi-final is Sunday evening at 5:05 p.m. at CHS Field presented by Securian. The Saints send RHP Robert Coe (11-3, 3.11) to the mound against RHP Eric Wordekemper (8-2, 4.64). There will be no radio, but the game can be seen on the Saints Cable Network, cable access channels in the Twin Cities area, watched at saintsbaseball.com by clicking on the video link on the homepage and heard in the ballpark on 97.9 FM.