GARY, IN (July 4, 2014) – Since the middle of June the St. Paul Saints have seen all their goodwill from the beginning of the season nearly disappear. At one point they were 10 games over .500, but with the 7-1 loss to the Gary SouthShore Railcats at U.S. Steel Yardon Friday night they sit just one game over .500 at 23-22. They have now lost 12 of their last 15.
The night didn’t start off on a positive note as the Railcats plated three runs in the first inning as the first five men reached base. Danny Pulfer led off against Saints starter Nick Barnese with a single to center. Drew Martinez walked. Zac Mitchell laid down what was supposed to be a sacrifice bunt, Barnese fielded it and his throw to first bounced in the dirt and went into foul territory scoring Pulfer. Mitchell was credited with a single and the runners moved up on the throwing error. Craig Maddox knocked home two with a single to give the Railcats a 3-0 lead.
In the second Barnese hit leadoff batter Ryan Brockett. Pulfer singled him to second and Martinez loaded the bases with a single of his own. With two outs Barnese hit Maddox to force home a run and make it 4-0.
The Saints got their lone run against Railcats starter Morgan Coombs in the third. With one out Jared McDonald walked and moved to third on a single by Dwight Childs. Sam Maus continued his hot start as the first year rookie drove home McDonald with a single to make it 4-1. That would be all the Saints would get, however, as they threatened in just one more inning.
In the fourth Evan Bigley led off for the Saints with a single to center. On a pitch in the dirt to Henry Wrigley, Bigley attempted to take second, but was thrown out. It proved to be costly as Wrigley walked and Angelo Songco singled to right which moved Wrigley to third. A shallow fly out by Keith Brachold and a line out to deep left by Joe Bonfe ended the inning.
The Saints managed just two more base runners after that, a leadoff single by McDonald in the fifth and Wrigley reaching on a wild pitch after a swinging strike three in the sixth. Coombs went the distance for the second time this season getting the complete game allowing one run on six hits while walking one and striking out a season high eight.
The Railcats tacked on their final three runs in the fifth when Cody Bishop walked with two outs. Josh Romanski reached on an error by Songco at first. That gave Brockett a chance to triple home two and Drew Muren to double home Brockett to finish the scoring.
The Saints two bright spots were the relief work done by guys making their season debuts, one his professional debut. Mackenzie King tossed 2.0 shutout, hitless innings of relief while Andy Johnson made his pro debut and the Wayzata standout pitched a perfect inning of relief.
The same two teams meet Saturday evening at 6:10 p.m. at U.S. Steel Yard in game two of the three game series. The Saints are TBA and the Railcats send RHP Dustin Crenshaw (5-3, 2.71).