Walk-Off Home Run By Thomas In Ninth Puts Saints A Win From Championship SeriesST. PAUL, MN September 10, 2016
For seven innings the St. Paul Saints couldn’t do anything against Winnipeg Goldeyes ace Kevin McGovern. Once he departed the Saints got the big hits, none larger than Tony Thomas’ walk-off solo home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning as the Saints won 3-2 at CHS Field in front of 5,023. With the win the Saints lead the best-of-five series 2-1 and are one win away from the American Association Championship Series.
With the game tied at two in the bottom of the ninth the Goldeyes brought in left-handed reliever Kyle Anderson. On a 1-1 pitch Thomas clubbed a low line drive towards left field that had just enough height to clear the wall for a walk-off home run. It was the first walk-off win in the playoffs since Game 5 of the 2011 Division Series against the Goldeyes and the first walk-off home run since Marc Mirizzi’s championship clinching grand slam in 2004.
The Saints trailed 2-0 going to the eighth and reliever Cameron McVey started the inning by walking Nate Hanson. Angelo Songco lined a single to center putting runners at first and second. The Goldeyes went to their bullpen for right-hander Victor Capellan. Vinny DiFazio sacrificed the runners over and the Saints finally got on the board when pinch hitter Ryan Cavan grounded out to first which scored Hanson to make it 2-1. With pinch hitter Tony Caldwell at the plate and the count 2-0, Capellan unleashed a wild pitch scoring Songco to tie the game at two.
For the first seven innings it was a pitcher’s duel with McGovern keeping the Saints off the scoreboard and Saints starter Corey Williams nearly matching him.
In the bottom of the second inning Hanson led off with a single and then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Songco. McGovern, however, would strike out DiFazio and Trever Adams to end the inning.
In the top of the third the Goldeyes threatened when Adam Heisler led off with an infield single to short. Maikol Gonzalez sacrificed him over. Willie Cabrera then hit a ground ball down the line at first that Songco fielded, but Williams failed to cover the bag which put runners at the corners. Williams would make up for the mistake by striking out Reggie Abercrombie and getting Josh Romanski to ground out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the fourth the Saints had another opportunity when Hanson led off with a single. With one out DiFazio walked. Adams reached on a fielder’s choice that erased DiFazio at second and Breland Almadova struck out to end the inning.
The Goldeyes finally broke through against Williams in the fifth. Heisler led off with a single to left-center and was sacrificed to second by Gonzalez. Cabrera reached on a fielding error by Thomas at short that put runners at first and second. Abercrombie loaded the bases with a single to left and that brought up Romanski. He dumped a fly ball single to right scoring a pair of runs to make it 2-0. Williams would get out of the inning with a strikeout of David Rohm, who had a base hit in seven consecutive at bats before the strikeout, and a fielder’s choice groundout off the bat of Grider. Williams went 5.0 innings allowing two runs (one earned) on nine hits while striking out four.
The Saints had a chance to answer in the bottom of the inning when Alonzo Harris and Tanner Vavra started the inning with back-to-back singles. Thomas sacrificed them over, but McGovern struck out David Bergin for the second out of the inning. After a walk to Hanson loaded the bases, Songco flew out to left to end the inning. McGovern would go 7.0 shutout innings allowing four hits while walking six and striking out nine.
Caleb Thielbar was spectacular for the Saints in 3.0 innings of relief allowing just two hits while walking two and striking out five. Closer Ryan Rodebaugh earned the win when he pitched a perfect ninth while striking out two. In all there were 21 strikeouts combined, 11 by Saints pitchers.
The Saints have a chance to win the series on Sunday evening in Game 4 of the Division Series at 5:05 p.m. at CHS Field. The Saints send LHP Kody Knaus (2-2, 4.53) to the mound against Goldeyes RHP Duke von Schamann (8-7, 4.87). There is no radio, but the game can be seen on the Saints Cable network, cable access channels in the Twin Cities and at americanassociationbaseball.tv.
Tickets for Game 4 of the Division Series are on sale at the Saints box or by calling 651-644-6659 beginning at noon or anytime at saintsbaseball.com.
Ticket prices for the playoffs are the same as the regular season: $5 for berm seating (available only on day of game in person at the box office), $6 for bleacher seats, $12 for the drink rail, $14 for outfield reserved, $16 for infield reserved and $18 for home plate reserved. Tickets purchased on the day of the game are an additional $2 per ticket. Children under the age of 12 and seniors 65 and older receive $1 off the admission price. Children under 2 that don't require a seat are free.