SIOUX CITY, IA (July 20, 2012) – For St. Paul Saints manager George Tsamis the fact his team won for the sixth straight time, 7-3 over the Sioux City Explorers at Lewis and Clark Park, will probably be what he takes away from the victory on Friday night. In a larger sense, however, Tsamis earned his 500th win as manager of the Saints and he made all the right moves during the evening.
The Saints jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second when Ronnie Bourquin walked and Jose Hernandez doubled him to third. Miles Durham’s sacrifice fly scored Bourquin and Tanner Townsend drove home Hernandez with a single. Hernandez finished the night 3-4 with a double and two runs scored.
In the fourth Bourquin walked and Hernandez singled him to second. Many managers may have asked a .176 hitter to bunt the runners over, but Tsamis decided to let Durham swing away. Durham rewarded his manager with a three-run blast to left, his third of the season, to give the Saints a 5-0 lead.
Saints starter Anthony Claggett cruised through the first three innings, but in the fourth Peter Barrows singled with one out and Kris Sanchez hit a two-run opposite field homer, his 12th of the season, which cut the Saints lead to 5-2.
In the bottom of the sixth the Explorers closed the gap even further when Brandon Newton doubled and moved to third on a ground out. Peter Barrows then hit a grounder to the right of third baseman Tanner Townsend, who made a diving backhanded play and threw out Barrows. Despite the run scoring to make it 5-3, Tanner prevented Barrows from reaching. Claggett was once again solid for the Saints working 6.0 innings allowing three runs on six hits while striking out three.
With the Saints clinging to a two run lead in the eighth reliever Chris Odegaard walked Newton with one out and Barrows with two outs. Tsamis once again pushed the right buttons. He elected to bring in lefty Kyle Carr to face the left-hand hitting Sanchez. The two had faced each other four times this season with Carr retiring him twice, Sanchez hitting an RBI double and also reaching once on an error. After a wild pitch put the tying runs in scoring position, Carr won the battle getting Sanchez to fly out.
The Saints tacked on two insurance runs in the ninth when Jon Townsend led off by reaching on a single, extending his hit streak to nine games. A wild pitch moved him to second. With two outs Adam Frost reached on an error by shortstop Ryan Priddy. Frost took second on defensive indifference and Willie Cabrera then singled off the glove of pitcher Eddie Delacruz scoring both runs and giving the Saints breathing room.
With the win Tsamis is now 500-417 in his 10th season with the Saints and 682-585 in his 14th season as a manager (he spent two seasons in Waterbury and two seasons in New Jersey). Tsamis earned his 500th win against the same team he recorded his 265th victory, the win that made him the all-time winningest Saints manager, the Explorers
The same two teams meet again on Saturday night in game two of the four game series at 7:05 p.m. at Lewis and Clark Park. The Saints send RHP Todd Mathison (1-1, 7.09) to the mound against Explorers RHP Nick Schumacher (5-3, 4.92).