SIOUX CITY, IA (May 20, 2014) – The St. Paul Saints won their first ever game in franchise history courtesy of a Leon Durham grand slam. On Tuesday morning at Lewis and Clark Park it was an inside the park grand slam by Evan Bigley that proved to be the difference in a 10-3 victory over the Sioux City Explorers that vaulted the franchise into the 1,000 win club.
With the Saints trailing 3-2 in the sixth inning and one out Angelo Songco singled to left-center. Joey Becker followed with a double moving Songco to third. Devin Thaut was intentionally walked to load the bases, which was the last batter Explorers starter Greg Holt would face. Rob Wort came in and struck out Dwight Childs for the second out of the inning. Evan Bigley then hit a tailing fly ball to right that Tom Mendonca dove for, had the ball hit his glove, ricochet out and carom all the way into foul territory in the right field corner. Bigley never let up and raced all the way around the bases for the inside the park grand slam to give the Saints a 6-3 lead.
Bigley would come through again in the eighth. Dwight Childs led off with a double and Bigley followed with an RBI single giving the Saints a 7-3 lead. He finished the day 3-4 with a grand slam, five RBI and three runs scored. Three batters later Henry Wrigley made it 8-3 with a sacrifice fly. Wrigley finished the day 1-4 with three RBI.
Eight of the nine hitters in the Saints lineup collected a hit with Joe Bonfe collecting his fourth three-hit game in the first six of the season. Songco also finished 3-4 with two runs scored. The Saints pounded out 14 hits, a night after they collected 17. They entered play leading the American Association in batting at .331.
That was more than enough for the Saints pitching staff. The reigning American Association Pointstreak Pitcher of the Week, Anthony Claggett, tossed 7.0 solid innings allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits while striking out one. He was effective all game giving up a two-run triple to Mendonca in the fourth that tied the game at two and then an RBI double to Rene Tosoni in the fifth that put the Explorers ahead 3-2.
The Saints bullpen tossed 2.0 scoreless innings with Ryan Bollinger striking out Tosoni, the only batter he faced, Mikey Mehlich recording two outs and Dan Sattler striking out two in the ninth.
The Saints become just the fifth Independent League club with 1,000 wins joining the Bridgeport Bluefish and Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League and Winnipeg Goldeyes and Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks of the American Association. The Saints are the only team to win game 1,000 by more than one run and win it on the road.
The Saints and Explorers finish up their three game series on Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. at Lewis and Clark Park. The Saints send RHP Robert Coe (1-0, 3.00) to the mound against Explorers RHP Geoff Broussard (0-1, 5.40).