LINCOLN, NE (June 18, 2012) – Haymarket Park has never been kind to the St. Paul Saints. Since 2001 the Saints are 25-52 against the Lincoln Saltdogs at their home ballpark, but on Monday night history meant nothing as the Saints got big hits and a solid pitching performance to take out the Saltdogs 8-3.
The Saints had everything going against them before the game. They were facing the pitcher with the fifth best ERA in the League in Ryan Sheldon. Saints starting pitcher Alberto Rolon was coming off the DL and had an ERA over 10. They entered the contest on a three game losing streak and were pounded on Sunday afternoon in Sioux Falls. All that didn’t matter, however, as the Saints jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Jim Rapoport, who had his 11 game hitting streak come to an end, led off the game with a walk. It was the eighth straight game he’s led off by reaching base safely. Shane Costa followed with a single and that brought up Ole Sheldon. He took his namesake, Ryan Sheldon, deep to left for a three-run homer, his eighth of the season. It was the 48th home run of his Saints career leaving him just seven shy of surpassing David Kennedy’s all-time franchise record.
In the second the Saints took a 4-0 lead when Ronnie Bourquin led off with a single and with two outs Rapoport walked. Costa followed with an RBI single to center.
Ryan Sheldon had his shortest outing of the season lasting just 3.2 innings as his defense left him in the fourth. Benji Johnson led off when he reached on an error by shortstop Joe Spiers. Adam Frost singled him to second and Rapoport followed with a sacrifice bunt. Third baseman Jared McDonald’s throw to first went down the right field line which scored Johnson to make it 5-0 and put runners at second and third. With one out Cabrera drove home a run with a sacrifice fly and Ole Sheldon made it 7-0 with a single to center. Sheldon finished the night 2-4 with a home run, four RBI and a run scored. The four RBI on the night gives him 199 for his Saints career, just 14 shy of surpassing Brent Krause’s franchise record.
The rest was left up to Rolon who left his last start on June 8 with a groin injury after going just 3.0 innings. He tossed one of his best performances of the season going 6.0 innings allowing one run on three hits while walking four and striking out four. The first two men in the second reached on a walk and single, but Rolon struck out the next two hitters and got a fielder’s choice ground out to end the inning.
He wouldn’t run into trouble again until the fifth when he loaded the bases with nobody out on two singles and a walk. Rolon got a huge double play ground out that scored a run, but it was the only run Rolon would give up.
Ronnie Bourquin had another solid game going 3-5 with two doubles and a run scored.
The same two teams meet Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m. at Haymarket Park in the second game of the three game series. The Saints are TBA and the Saltdogs send RHP Wade Mackey (1-0, 3.67) to the mound.