Straka Beats Former Team, Saints Finish Off Explorers 6-4, Win Five of Six On RoadtripST. PAUL, MN June 22, 2016
Sometimes all it takes is to face your former team to get you on track. Starting pitcher John Straka, facing the team he helped guide to the playoffs last year in the Sioux City Explorers, allowed just one earned run in 6.1 innings and the St. Paul Saints offense did just enough in a 6-4 victory at Mercy Field at Lewis and Clark Park. The Saints won five of six on the roadtrip and improved to a league best 24-10.
Straka, who was 11-3 last season for the record setting 75 win Explorers, battled all night long and didn’t get a lot of help from his defense. In the second Tommy Mendonca led off with a single and Straka got Jarek Cunningham to hit a perfect double play ball to short. Tony Thomas flipped to second for the lead out, but Alonzo Harris’ throw to first was wide and that allowed Cunningham to take second. A ground out moved Cunningham to third and then Straka’s former battery mate, Matt Koch, singled home Cunningham which made it 4-1.
With the Saints leading 6-1 in the bottom of the fourth Cunningham led off with a single to left. Tim Colwell reached on a fielding error by first baseman Angelo Songco that put runners at first and second. Koch came through again with an RBI single to make it 6-2. Ralph Henriquez, hitting .189 coming into play, made it 6-3 with an RBI single. With runners at the corners and nobody out Straka made the biggest pitch of the night when he got Matty Johnson to ground into a double play. Despite the run scoring, Straka limited the damage. Straka went 6.1 innings allowing four runs (one earned) on 10 hits while walking one and striking out four.
The Saints offense produced in the first inning and scored four runs all with two outs. With one out Breland Almadova walked. With two outs Songco walked. Three straight doubles plated runs as Tony Thomas knocked in one, Willie Argo plated two and Tony Caldwell brought home the final run to make it 4-0.
With the Saints up 4-1 in the fourth Alonzo Harris crushed a two-run homer to left, his ninth of the season and fifth in seven games, to make it 6-1.
The Saints bullpen was stellar again as Caleb Thielbar entered the game with the tying run at the plate in the seventh. He got Noah Perio to fly out and Nate Samson to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the inning. Thielbar worked a perfect eighth inning and has not allowed a run in 12.0 innings pitched.
Ryan Rodebaugh worked a perfect ninth to pick up his eighth save of the season.
The Saints take Thursday off and return to CHS Field Friday night for a four game series against the Winnipeg Goldeyes. The Saints send RHP Mark Hamburger (5-0, 5-0, 3.38) to the mound. The Saints kick of Twin Cities Pride with an Xcel Energy Friday night fireworks to the music of Queen. The game can be seen on the Saints Cable Network, cable access channels in the Twin Cities area, and heard on Club 1220 KLBB.