ST. PAUL, MN (June 7, 2013) – After 11 days on the road the St. Paul Saints returned home and appeared to be cruising towards a victory. The last two innings, however, made for an exciting finish as Willie Cabrera gunned out pinch runner Tim Rotola at home to end a wild 8-7 Saints victory over the Wichita Wingnuts at Midway Stadium on Friday night in front of 5,172.
With the Saints clinging to a one run lead in the ninth and closer Matt Meyer on the hill the Wingnuts started the inning with a single from John Rodriguez. Rodriguez was replaced by the pinch runner Rotola. Meyer then struck out CJ Ziegler for the first out. Cole Armstrong was then hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second. Armstrong was replaced by pinch runner Stephen Yoo. Meyer struck out Abel Nieves for the second out of the inning. With Colt Loehrs at the plate and the count 1-2, he lined a soft single into left field. Cabrera played the ball and Rotola rounded third. Cabrera threw a perfect strike to the plate and catcher Dwight Childs blocked the plate and laid down the tag on a bang-bang play to get Rotola and end the game.
The game was only that close because the Wingnuts put up five runs in the eighth inning. With the Saints leading 8-2 going into the top of the eighth Ryan Khoury led off by walking. Jake Kahaulelio doubled him to third. Starter Wes Roemer left the game in place of Connor Whalen. He got Rodriguez to hit a grounder to third, but it went through the legs of Joey Becker for an error and allowed a run to score making it 8-3. Whalen walked CJ Ziegler and then walked in a run when he put Armstrong on to make it 8-4. Whalen left in place of Billy Spottiswood. A fielder’s choice RBI ground out by Abel Nieves made it 8-5. Loehrs’ RBI single made it 8-6. Spottiswood then walked David Amberson to load the bases. Meyer entered the game and struck out Jared McDonald, but hit Khoury to force in another run and cut the deficit to one. Meyer, however, got Kahaulelio, who was 3-3 at that point, to fly out to right.
Saints starter Wes Roemer was brilliant for most of the night. He gave up a solo homer to Kahaulelio in the first and then didn’t give up another hit until one out in the sixth. He went 7.0 innings allowing four runs on six hits while walking three and striking out four.
The Saints jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the third when Adam Frost led off with an infield single to short. On a hit and run Childs singled to right to put runners at the corners. Dan Kaczrowski’s RBI single tied the game at one. With one out Brad Boyer, who earlier in the game extended his hitting streak to 11, doubled home two.
With the Saints leading 4-2 in the seventh they appeared to put the game out of reach. Boyer led off with a double. He finished the night 3-5 with two doubles, two RBI and a run scored. With one out Cabrera singled him home to make it 5-2. Singles by Brandon Tripp and Jose Hernandez loaded the bases and with two outs Childs came through with a bases clearing double to give the Saints an 8-2 lead.
The same two teams meet in game two of the three game series on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. at Midway Stadium. The Saints send RHP Mark Hamburger (0-1, 5.25) to the mound against Wingnuts LHP Ryan Hinson (2-1, 2.52). Join us after the game as we journey to Northern Spark.