FARGO, ND (July 23, 2013) – Facing the first place team in the North Division the St. Paul Saints got the start they were looking for against the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks. The Saints jumped out to a 5-0 lead after two and a half innings, but couldn’t hold on as the RedHawks exploded for seven in the third and the Saints dropped the first game of the series 7-5 at Newman Outdoor Field on Tuesday night.
The Saints put up a three spot in the first inning as Adam Frost led off with a single. He swiped second, one of three in the game for him, which tied a franchise record that had been done 10 previous times. The last time it was accomplished was by Frost five days ago. With one out Brad Boyer walked and Willie Cabrera was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Brandon Tripp walked to force in a run and give the Saints a 1-0 lead. Ole Sheldon then dropped a single into right to make it 3-0.
In the third Sheldon reached on an infield single and Jose Hernandez followed with a single to put runners at first and second. After a fielder’s choice put runners at the corners, Dan Kaczrowski was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Frost came through with a two run single to give the Saints a 5-0 lead. Frost finished the night 3-5 with two RBI, a run scored and three stolen bases.
The five runs appeared to be more than enough for the Saints most consistent starter this season, Anthony Claggett. He had allowed more than three runs in a start just three times in 11 appearances and hadn’t allowed more than six runs all season. He allowed more than that in one inning. In the bottom of the third the RedHawks sent 11 men to the plate with the first eight men reaching base. With the bases loaded and nobody out Claggett walked in a run to make it 5-1. Nic Jackson and C.J. Retherford had back-to-back RBI singles to make it 5-3. Then Keith Brachold drilled one down the right field line for a grand slam, his 11th of the season, that proved to be the difference in the game and gave the RedHawks the 7-5 lead. Claggett lasted just 4.0 innings, the first time this season he didn’t go at least 6.0, allowing seven runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out one.
The closest the Saints would come to scoring the rest of the way came in the fifth when Kaczrowski walked with two outs and Frost singled him to third. Frost stole second, but both were left stranded when Joey Becker grounded out to end the inning.
The two newest Saints pitchers, Jon Plefka and Bryan Henry, each pitched a scoreless inning of relief.
The same two teams meet Wednesday evening at 7:02 p.m. in game two of the three game series at Newman Outdoor Field. The Saints send RHP Mike Koons (1-0, 4.50) to the mound against RedHawks RHP Brian Ernst (3-1, 2.95).