ST. PAUL, MN (July 19, 2014) – With all the double headers played by the St. Paul Saints this week they were either going to start someone on short rest or go with a spot start on Saturday evening. They elected the latter, but Ben Hughes became more than just a temporary stop gap. He dazzled on the hill and the offense exploded for a season high 20 hits as the Saints beat up on the Laredo Lemurs 12-4 in front of 4,983 at Midway Stadium and took a one game lead in the Wild Card over the Lemurs. By virtue of winning the first two games of the series the Saints hold the tie breaker should the two teams finished even.
Hughes was magnificent and the only time he ran into any trouble was the second. With the Saints leading 1-0 he hit Dennis Phipps to lead off the inning. Phipps stole second and with one out Byron Wiley walked. Phipps then stole third and catcher Jake Taylor’s throw to third went into left field allowing Phipps to score and sending Wiley to second. Carlos Ramirez made it 2-1 with an RBI single. After that Hughes didn’t falter until he left the game in the seventh.
Hughes allowed two out doubles in the third and fourth, but managed to get ground outs to end each inning. He retired seven straight hitters from the last batter in the fourth through the sixth. In the seventh John Alonso led off with a double and with one out Ramirez walked. That was the night for Hughes who went 6.1 innings allowing three runs on four hits while walking three and striking out six and improving to 3-0.
The Saints offense was relentless from the first inning on. All nine Saints collected a hit and eight of nine had at least two hits. Eight of the nine Saints had either a run or RBI. The Saints scored at least a run in six of the eight innings they batted.
With the game tied at two in the fourth Angelo Songco drilled a solo shot to right, his ninth of the season, to give the Saints a 3-2 lead.
In the fifth the Saints started to pull away scoring three runs in the inning while sending eight men to the plate. Jared McDonald led off with an infield single to second and advanced to second on the throwing error on the play. Devin Thaut knocked him home with a double to right to make it 4-2. Sam Maus reached on an infield single that moved Thaut to third. Willie Cabrera made it 5-2 with an RBI single and Henry Wrigley followed with an RBI single to make it 6-2.
With the Saints up 8-3 in the seventh they scored four runs while sending nine men to the plate. Songco led off with a single and Keith Brachold walked. Taylor made it 9-3 with an RBI single. McDonald knocked home two with a triple to make it 11-3. With one out Maus singled home McDonald to give the Saints a 12-3 lead.
The biggest story line outside of the Saints victory was the hitting streak by Lemurs Nick Van Stratten. He entered play with a 33 game hit streak, but went 0-5 and finished one shy of tying the American Association record.
ST. PAUL, MN (July 20, 2014) – There will be many more big series over the final six weeks of the season, but the St. Paul Saints passed their first test with flying colors. Down to their final out in the bottom of the ninth Willie Cabrera hit a walk-off two-run double in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Saints a 3-2 win over the Laredo Lemurs at Midway Stadium on Sunday afternoon in front of 4,041 completing a three game sweep and building a two game lead in the wild card.
With the Saints trailing 2-1 going into the bottom of the ninth Joey Becker led off with a single to left off of closer Chad Povich. Dwight Childs laid down a sacrifice bunt, his second of the game and 12th of the season one shy of tying the single-season franchise record, moving Becker to second. With two outs Sam Maus drew a walk extending his streak of reaching base safely to 23 consecutive games. That’s when Cabrera stepped to the plate. On an 0-1 pitch he lined a ball to right field that went to the wall and scored both Becker and Maus for the walk-off game winner.
The Saints jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second on a solo homer by Keith Brachold, his second of the season with the Saints. That was all the Saints managed off of Casey Harman. He went 6.1 innings allowing one run on seven hits while walking one and striking out four.
The Lemurs, who entered play with the most home runs in the American Association, finally got to Saints starter Nick Barnese. In the sixth Denis Phipps hit a solo homer to left, his seventh of the season, tying the game at one. Barnese went 6.0 innings allowing one run on seven hits while walking two and striking out seven.
Phipps would strike again in the seventh off of Saints reliever Mikey Mehlich. Nick Van Stratten led off with a single to center. With two outs Travis Denker singled Van Stratten to second. Phipps then doubled off the left field wall scoring Van Stratten to give the Lemurs a 2-1 lead.
Mehlich would pitch a scoreless eighth and Dan Sattler struck out all three Lemurs he faced in the ninth to set up the dramatic finish.
The Saints welcome in the Sioux Falls Canaries on Monday evening to begin a four game series at 7:05 p.m. The Saints send RHP Jeff Shields (5-4, 2.96) to the mound while the Canaries are TBA. It is Perms on the Berm and TopLine Federal Credit Union Dollar Dance.