Two Best Teams In American Association History Get Set For Semi-Final Playoff ShowdownST. PAUL, MN September 8, 2015
TWO BEST TEAMS IN AMERICAN ASSOCIATION HISTORY GET SET FOR SEMI-FINAL PLAYOFF SHOWDOWN
ST. PAUL, MN (September 8, 2015) – Both the St. Paul Saints and Sioux City Explorers surpassed the American Association record for wins in a season, set last season by the Wichita Wingnuts at 73. With their win in the final game of the season the St. Paul Saints finished 74-26 and it wasn’t even the best record in the league. That’s because the Sioux City Explorers finished a game better than them at 75-25. The two will collide in a best-of-five semi-final series that begins on Wednesday, September 9 at Lewis and Clark Park.
The two semi-final series are based on geography, with the teams closest to each other squaring off. It just so happens the two teams with the most wins in league history are closer to each other than the South Division, and defending champions, Wichita Wingnuts (59-41) and the Wild Card winner, the Laredo Lemurs (57-43). With the best record, the Explorers had the choice of hosting Games 1 and 2 or Games 3-5 and elected to have the first two games at home.
The Saints will depart for Sioux City on Tuesday, September 8 at 2:00 p.m. Media members interested in interviews can meet the team at 1:00 p.m. at the 4th Street entrance, located behind the center field wall.
The Saints are led by triple-crown threat, catcher Vinny DiFazio who finished the season hitting .361 with 17 homers and 82 RBI, surpassing the franchise record for RBI (tied this season with teammate Angelo Songco). DiFazio led the league in average, tied for first in RBI and was tied for third in home runs. He led the league in on base percentage (.467) and slugging percentage (.592). He was named to the Post-Season All-Star team at catcher.
Another Saints player named to the Post-Season All-Star team was first baseman Angelo Songco. He finished the season hitting .339 with 17 homers and 82 RBI. He finished tied for first in RBI, tied for third in homers and fifth in average. He led the league in total bases (214) and extra base hits (49), while finishing second in slugging percentage (.580).
The Saints boast four pitchers with 12 or more wins: Kramer Sneed, an American Association record tying 15, Dustin Crenshaw (14), Jeff Shields (13) and Robert Coe (12). Closer Ryan Rodebaugh led the league in saves with 25.
The Explorers are led by an incredible pitching staff as well, including American Association Pitcher of the Year, Patrick Johnson. He finished the season 15-1 with a 2.08 ERA. His lone loss came against the Saints on August 12 in Sioux City. His 15 wins were tied for an American Association record, he was second in strikeouts (132) and third in ERA.
Johnson may not even have been the best pitcher on his own staff, however, as Ryan Zimmerman was 14-2 with a 1.80 ERA. He led the American Association in ERA and tied for third in wins. The Saints did not face him in the regular season.
The Explorers had three Post-Season American Association All-Stars in second baseman Ryan Court, .334-9-32, shortstop Noah Perio Jr., .314-7-74 and outfielder Michael Lang, .344-6-59. They also have the Defensive Player of the Year in centerfielder Matty Johnson.
The two teams stack up well and here is the breakdown in some major statistical categories:
Average .290 (2nd) .292 (1st)
Runs 612 (1st) 564 (2nd)
Home Runs 104 (1st) 49 (10th)
Stolen Bases 82 (12th) 188 (1st – American Association Record)
ERA 3.24 (2nd) 3.04 (1st – American Association Record)
BAA .243 (2nd) .225 (1st)
Strikeouts 560 (13th) 767 (1st)
Below is the schedule with pitching match-ups:
Game 1: Wednesday, September, 9 @ SC, 7:05 p.m.
STP: LHP Kramer Sneed (15-3, 2.84) vs. SC: RHP Ryan Zimmerman (14-2, 1.80)
Game 2: Thursday, September 10 @ SC 7:05 p.m.
STP: RHP Jeff Shields (13-2, 3.11) vs. SC: RHP Patrick Johnson (15-1, 2.08)
Game 3: Saturday, September 12 @ CHS Field, 7:05 p.m.
STP: RHP Dustin Crenshaw (14-2, 2.43) vs. SC RHP John Straka (11-3, 3.27)
Game 4 (if necessary): Sunday, September 13 @ CHS Field, 5:05 p.m.
STP RHP Robert Coe (11-3, 3.11) vs. TBA
Game 5 (if necessary): Monday, September 14 @ CHS Field, 7:05 p.m.
STP: TBA vs. SC: TBA
Saints fans can listen to Games 1, 2, 3 and 5 on Club 1220 KLBB (game four will not be on radio). Saints fans can watch Games 3-5 on the Saints Cable Network, cable access channels in the Twin Cities area and at saintsbaseball.com by clicking on the “video” link on the homepage.
Fans can purchase tickets to Game 3 on Saturday, September 12 at 7:05 p.m. by calling during normal box office hours Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 – 2:00 p.m. and by visiting saintsbaseball.com. An announcement about tickets for Games 4 and 5 will be made this week.