ST. PAUL, MN (June 12, 2013) – The second best pitcher in the American Association, Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks Jake Laber, matched up against the seventh best pitcher in the league, St. Paul Saints Cole Nelson, on Wednesday night at Midway Stadium. Nelson made it a no contest as he tossed his first ever complete game shutout outpitching Laber in a 6-0 win over the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks as the Saints took over sole possession of first place in the North Division.
The 23-year-old lefthander from Edina, Minnesota was in complete control all night long. He retired the first 11 batters of the game before giving up a two-out single to Nic Jackson in the fourth.
In the fifth Nelson gave up a leadoff infield single to Keith Brachold, but Nelson got a double play ground out to erase the runner.
In the sixth Nelson walked his lone hitter, Zach Penprase with two outs, but got Mitch Einertson to fly out to end the inning.
In the seventh, Nelson gave up the hardest hit ball of the night, a one out triple to Tim Alberts off the right-center field wall. With the shutout in jeopardy, Nelson struck out Brachold looking and got C.J. Retherford to ground out to end the inning.
Starting the ninth with more than 100 pitches, Nelson gave up a one out single to Einertson, but got Jackson to hit into a fielder’s choice ground out and Alberts flew out to right to end the game. Nelson allowed just four hits, while walking one and striking out eight as he threw 118 pitches, 71 for strikes. His ERA dropped from 2.53 to 1.78. Nelson’s longest career outing prior toWednesday night was 7.0 innings in 2010 when he threw seven no-hit innings with the Lakeland Flying Tigers, the Single-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. The last 9.0 inning complete game shutout by a Saints pitcher was May 24, 2011 when Donald Brandt accomplished the feat against the Fort Worth Cats at Midway Stadium.
The Saints offense got Nelson all the support he would need in the fourth when they scored three runs with two outs. Jose Hernandez singled and stole second. Adam Frost singled home Hernandez to give the Saints a 1-0 lead. Dwight Childs followed with an RBI triple to make it 2-0. Dan Kaczrowski singled home Childs to give the Saints a 3-0 lead. Joey Becker and Brad Boyer would each single to load the bases and extend their hitting streaks to nine and 14 respectively, but Craig Brazell flew out to end the inning. Becker finished the night 3-5 while Boyer went 2-4.
In the fifth the Saints got to Laber again as Frost doubled home a run to make it 4-0. Laber, who entered the game with a 1.76 ERA entering the game, went 5.0 innings allowing four runs on 12 hits while walking two and striking out five. His ERA climbed to 2.52.
The Saints finished their scoring in the eighth when Ole Sheldon doubled home a run and Hernandez hit a sacrifice fly. Sheldon finished the night 3-5 with a double and an RBI.
The Saints have Thursday off and will head on the road for a four game series in three days against the Wichita Wingnuts at Lawrence Dumont Stadium. The Saints will play a double header on Friday with game one beginning at 5:05 p.m. Game two will begin approximately 30 minutes at the conclusion of game one with both games scheduled for seven innings. The Saints are TBA in game two.