Wasted Opportunities Cost Saints As They Drop Game 1 3-2 To ExplorersST. PAUL, MN September 9, 2015
WASTED OPPORTUNITIES AS SAINTS DROP GAME 1 3-2 TO EXPLORERS
SIOUX CITY, IA (September 9, 2015) – It was everything you would expect with the two best teams in the American Association going at it in Game 1 of the American Association Semi-Final. Saints starter Kramer Sneed was stellar, but his offense stranded 14 runners in a 3-2 loss to the Sioux City Explorers on Wednesday night at Lewis and Clark Park. The Saints trail the best-of-five series 1-0.
Both teams looked nervous at the start committing uncharacteristic errors and the Saints were the first to capitalize in the first inning. With one out Ryan Cavan slapped a single between short and third. David Espinosa also slapped a ball towards the same hole that shortstop Noah Perio fielded, but couldn’t get the ball out of his glove and it went for an infield single. Perio had another opportunity with the next hitter as Vinny DiFazio hit a slow grounder, but Perio had the ball go in and out of his glove for an error and the Saints had the bases loaded. Angelo Songco then ripped a shot up the middle, but the mound slowed it down allowing second baseman Ryan Court to field it and he tossed a backhand throw to Perio covering second for the force out. Cavan scored from third to give the Saints a 1-0 lead.
In the second the Saints looked like they were going to take a 2-0 lead. Willie Argo doubled with one out and Alonzo Harris followed with a walk. With two outs Espinosa lined a single into left. With Argo heading towards home, left fielder Brent Keys fired towards second as Harris was trying to get back to the bag after he rounded second. He couldn’t get back in time and was tagged out before the run scored.
The Explorers used that momentum in the bottom of the inning and a mistake by the Saints to tie the game up. With one out Perio hit a broken bat grounder to first, but Songco failed to make the play and Perio reached on the error. With two outs Tommy Mendonca doubled home Perio to tie the game at one.
In the third Songco atoned for his error, clubbing a solo homer to right, his first of the playoffs, to give the Saints a 2-1 lead.
The last runs of the game came in the third. With one out Matty Johnson walked. Michael Lang then hit a comebacker that caromed off of Sneed’s glove towards shortstop Anthony Phillips for an infield single. After Rene Tosoni grounded out to first moving the runners up, Brock Kjeldgaard was intentionally walked. Perio came through with a two-run double down the line that proved to be the deciding runs.
That was the last base runner Sneed allowed. He retired the final 16 hitters and pitched his first ever complete game, although it came in a losing cause. He went 8.0 innings allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits while walking two and striking out a career high 13.
In the ninth the Saints made a little noise with two outs. Angelo Songco singled to right against reliever Rob Wort, who wound up going 3.0 innings and striking out five. He departed for closer Jose Flores. Ian Gac hit a grounder to Perio at short and he went the short way to second, but Court dropped the ball. Flores, however, would strike out Ryan Lashley to end the game.
The Saints left two men on base in five of the nine innings, left the bases loaded in the first and left one man on in the sixth. They were retired in order just twice.
Game 2 of the American Association Semi-Final is Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. The Saints send RHP Jeff Shields (13-2, 3.11) to the mound against Explorers RHP Patrick Johnson (15-1, 2.08). The game can be heard on Club 1220 KLBB.