ST. PAUL, Minn. – The St. Paul Saints opened up the 2017 season with a win on Thursday night over the Gary SouthShore Railcats, though for the first half of the game, it was a pitcher’s duel, as both pitchers put up matching zeroes for the first five innings.
Saints almost take early lead
The Saints nearly took the lead in the first when Nate Hanson hit a long fly ball to left field, but it missed clearing the fence by mere feet, and Hanson was forced to settle for a double. He was stranded there when Brady Shoemaker struck out to end the inning.
Saints ace Mark Hamburger had a no-hitter going early, as he didn’t give up a hit until there were two outs in the third inning and Chase Harris dropped a bunt that he beat out. Reggie Wilson followed that up with a strikeout to end the inning.
The Railcats almost broke through in the fourth inning when Frank Martinez hit a one-out single, and Jaime Del Valle followed with a single to center field, but Hamburger got Kris Goodman to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the inning and preserve the tie.
Saints explode in the 6th
It was tied at 0 when the game entered the bottom of the sixth, but that’s when the Saints erupted, scoring five runs on two home runs. The inning started when Jon Kristoffersen singled to right-center field. Danny Oh followed with a single of his own, and after Breland Almadova grounded out for the second out, Nate Hanson stepped up to the plate and ripped the first home run of the season for the Saints into the bullpen in left field.
They didn’t stop there, as Shoemaker singled to left, and Tony Thomas hit a home run of his own, this one to left-center field to make it a 5-0 Saints lead. They were unable to get anything else, however, as Tim Colwell struck out to end the inning, but the damage was done.
Hamburger came out to the mound in the ninth looking for the complete game, but manager George Tsamis was forced to remove him from the game with one out after he gave up three hits and two runs. Tsamis brought in Minnesota native Seth Rosin, who struck out Collin Willis and Ryan Fitzgerald to nail down the first win of the season for the Saints.
- Hamburger went 8.1 innings, striking out eight batters and allowing just six hits. He is known for pitching deep into games, and tonight was no exception.
- Rookie Kristoffersen had a big night, going 1-3 with a run scored in his first professional game. His single in the sixth sparked the Saints rally.
- Hanson had another big night, going 2-4 with a home run, a double, and three runs batted in. He had the best night of the Saints batters.
- The two teams are scheduled to play game two of the series on Friday night at 7:05 p.m. The Saints will send LHP Eric Veglahn (0-0) to the mound, while the Railcats will send LHP Alex Gunn (0-0) to the mound.
Win – Mark Hamburger (1-0)
Loss – Charlie Rosario (0-1)
Save – Seth Rosin (1)
Player of the game – Mark Hamburger (8.1 IP, 8K)