The St. Paul Saints defeated the Sioux Falls Canaries 5-4 in their final preseason game on Tuesday afternoon at CHS Field thanks to a walk-off home run by center fielder Alonzo Harris.
He stepped up to the plate with one out in the bottom of the ninth, after Mike Gilmartin drew a lead-off walk, followed by Tanner Vavra reaching after being hit by a pitch. Aaron Gretz then struck out for the first out, which set up Harris to hit a hanging breaking ball into the left-field bullpen, for his first home run of the exhibition season.
"I was focusing on just getting on base," Harris said after the game, "I jokingly told Tony Thomas that if two guys got on, I would hit a home run, but I wasn't really thinking about homering, just trying to get on base safely."
The Canaries led most of the way, as they got the lead in the second when Ozney Guillen singled to the pitcher, followed by a double from Frank Martinez, which set up Ethan Chapman for an RBI ground out to the shortstop. Martinez then scored when Cameron Garfield singled to center field. Garfield was caught trying to steal second to end the inning with just one run allowed by John Straka, the Saints starting pitcher.
The Saints responded in the bottom of the third inning when Tony Caldwell hit a one-out solo home run to right field. A few batters later, Breland Almadola singled to right field, then scored when Willie Argo doubled to right field, and just like that the game was tied again.
Sioux Falls scored again in the sixth after the Saints brought in Chris Peacock in relief of Straka. He had a rough first inning, as the first three batters he faced all reached base, setting up Guillen for an RBI groundout that ended up as a double play. Peacock then got Martinez to ground out to first to somehow escape the inning with just one run allowed.
The Canaries tacked on another one in the seventh when Chapman drew a lead-off walk. He stole second, then advanced to third when Nolan Johnson grounded out to first base. Chapman scored when Blake Schmit hit a sacrifice fly to center field, putting the Canaries up 4-2.
That was the score entering the ninth inning, when Harris hit his walk-off home run. The Saints will now take Wednesday off, as they open the regular season on Thursday night against the Gary Southshore Railcats. After that, they will travel to Sioux Falls to face the Canaries.
- Manager George Tsamis announced after the game that Mark Hamburger, who is in his second stint with the Saints, will be the opening day starter on Thursday. He will be followed in the rotation by Robert Coe, Jeff Shields, and Straka.
- The Saints are currently sitting with too many players on their roster, meaning that somebody will need to be released before Thursday. "We will make that decision on Wednesday," Tsamis said after the game when asked about who it may be.