WINNIPEG, MB (July 12, 2012) – At least the St. Paul Saints weren’t leading or tied entering the eighth inning, but the result was still the same. After tying the game in the top of the ninth inning Winnipeg Goldeyes Josh Mazzola hit a walk off home run on the fourth pitch of the bottom of the ninth as the Saints lost 5-4 on Thursday night at Shaw Park.
In the top of the ninth with the Saints trailing 4-3 Tanner Townsend led off with a walk. He stole second and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by his brother Jon. On a 1-1 pitch to Benji Johnson closer Dexter Carter delivered a breaking ball in the dirt the skipped off of catcher Luis Alen, bounced up the third base line allowing Tanner to score the tying run. After Johnson struck out Jim Rapoport singled, but was thrown out trying to steal second to end the inning. Rapoport went 2-5 extending his streak of reaching base safely 31 consecutive games.
In the bottom of the ninth, however, Reid Mahon delivered a 2-1 pitch to Josh Mazzola who lined it over the left field line for the walk off home run. The homer was Mazzola’s eighth of the season.
Saints starter Robert Coe looked to build upon his stellar complete game in his last start. The night didn’t begin well, however, as he walked the leadoff batter Price Kendall. With one out Jon Weber’s broken bat single to left moved Kendall to second. Coe walked Yurendell de Caster which loaded the bases. Kyle Day’s infield single to short put the Goldeyes up 1-0. Mazzola wreaked havoc in the first as well with a bases clearing double to put the Goldeyes up 4-0. Coe settled down after that point allowing just a one out single to Kendall in the second, the final hit he would allow. He walked one in the third and one in the sixth, but after the first inning didn’t allow a runner to second. He hurled 7.0 innings allowing four runs on four hits while walking four and striking out three.
The Saints had a tall task on their hands going up against the American Association’s best pitcher in Matt Rusch who entered the game with a league best 2.35 ERA. In the top of the first the Saints looked like they would get on the board first when Rapoport doubled and then moved to third on a wild pitch. Jose Hernandez walked to put runners at the corners with nobody out. He was thrown out trying to steal, the eighth time this season he’s been thrown out. Willie Cabrera struck out and Ole Sheldon grounded out to end the inning as the Saints failed to score. Sheldon did extend his hitting streak to 12 with a double in the third.
In the second inning Ronnie Bourquin led off with an infield single to third and Miles Durham followed by hitting his first homer as a Saint, a two-run blast to left, that cut the deficit to 4-2. It was the first homer given up by Rusch all season.
It wouldn’t be the last of the night, however, as Hernandez hit a solo homer in third, his sixth of the season, that cut the deficit to 3-2. Rusch went 6.1 innings allowing three runs on eight hits while walking one and striking out four.
The same two teams meet Friday night at Shaw Park at 7:00 p.m. The Saints are TBA while the Goldeyes send LHP Todd Privett (2-3, 4.41) to the mound.