It took nearly four hours but the St. Paul Saints prevailed in extra innings with a 7-6 victory over the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks on Monday night.
Facing a tough closer in Tom Boleska in the 11th inning, the Saints were helped by a walk to Jose Hernandez with one out. Ronnie Bourquin took a close strike two pitch before lining a single into left field, pushing the winning run to second base. Then Jon Townsend came to the plate. The Saints had a similar opportunity against Boleska in the ninth but could not score. This time, however, Townsend wouldn’t disappoint with a towering double to the right-center field wall to score Hernandez for the game-winner. The Saints are now 2-0 in extra-inning games this season.
The biggest story of the night was the bullpen. Josh Cephas was called upon for an emergency start but was pulled after 2.1 innings after allowing all six RedHawks runs. Fargo-Moorhead got two in the first off Nic Jackson’s two-run double and added four more in the third to take an early 6-1 lead.
Billy Spottiswood kept the score in check through the middle innings with 2.2 innings of strong relief. In the fourth, the Saints cut the deficit in half on Ronnie Bourquin’s two-run home run to make it 6-3. In the fifth with runners at first and second, Ole Sheldon launched a game-tying home run off RedHawks starter Alex Caldera, who pitched 5.1 innings for a no decision.
The bats for both teams would then fall silent. Bret Severtson pitched a perfect sixth for St. Paul before Kyle Carr and Reid Mahon would couple for two scoreless innings each. In the bottom of the ninth, Bourquin reached on an error made by RedHawks second baseman Carlo Cota. After Townsend bunted him to second, Alex Garabedian and Jim Rapoport would go down in order to send it to extras.
Mahon put runners at first and second in the tenth before retiring Marcos Rodriguez on a groundball. The Saints had not registered a hit since Sheldon’s home run in the fifth before Bourquin’s single in the 11th off Boleska (0-1). Townsend’s blast was worth the wait as the Saints took the first of three from the division rival RedHawks. Anthony Claggett (1-0) earned his first win after a perfect top of the 11th.
The second game of the three-game series is Tuesday night at 7:05 pm at Midway Stadium. The Saints send RHP Danny Gutierrez (0-1, 5.84) against RedHawks RHP Paul Burnside (2-2, 3.63). It is a Salute to the Mighty Ducks with a Ducks and Hawks Jersey Auction.