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Eric Peterson, Published June 29 2012

St. Paul Saints rally in ninth inning to cool off RedHawks

FARGO – The St. Paul Saints played spoiler Friday night at Newman Outdoor Field.

The Saints rallied for four runs in the ninth inning to nab a 7-5 American Association baseball victory for the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks before a sellout crowd of 5,144 fans.

The largest crowd at Newman since May 2009 was treated to postgame fireworks. The Saints’ ninth-inning surge was the lone downer in what was an otherwise festive evening for the home fans.

“Things just didn’t turn out there in the last inning for us,” said RedHawks left fielder Jon Gaston, who had two doubles. “It doesn’t take the wind out of our sails or anything like that. I still think we’re going to be rolling pretty well. It’s just one game.”

The RedHawks (20-20) had their six-game winning streak snapped.

The Saints had their first five batters in the ninth inning reach base off RedHawks right-handed reliever Mike Zenko, who took the loss.

“You feel for the guy,” RedHawks manager Doug Simunic said of Zenko. “He obviously struggled with what he was trying to do. He couldn’t command anything, and when he did, he put it on the big part of the plate.”

Zenko came on in the ninth inning instead of the team’s normal closer Tom Boleska, who hasn’t pitched since last Saturday. The right-handed throwing Boleska leads the American Association with 10 saves.

“When he can pitch, he will be out there,” Simunic said of Boleska. “He wasn’t available.”

Zenko didn’t record an out in the ninth inning, entering the game with a 5-3 F-M lead. He allowed two singles, a double, hit a batter and walked one. Zenko came into Friday with a 2-0 record and a 1.00 ERA in nine appearances with F-M this season.

The Saints loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth after leadoff hitter Adam Frost drew a walk. Jose Hernandez followed with a broken-bat single to center field that skipped past RedHawks center fielder Nic Jackson, who was charged with an error. On the play, all three baserunners came around to score and Hernandez ended up at third base. That gave the Saints a 6-5 lead. Jim Rapoport added an RBI double to score Hernandez and cap the inning. Rapoport was the final batter Zenko faced.

“The game was ours,” Simunic said. “It just didn’t happen. We’ll start again tomorrow.”

The RedHawks forged into the lead with two runs in the fifth inning. Ryan Stovall drew a bases-loaded walk to plate the first run in that inning. Marcos Rodriguez followed with a fielder’s choice, which scored Ryan Delgado from third base. Delgado’s run staked F-M to a 3-2 lead.

The RedHawks extended their lead with two more runs in the sixth inning. Sergio Pedroza capped that rally with a towering solo home run over the wall in center field for a 5-2 lead. The Saints finally overcame that deficit in the ninth inning.

NOTES: Right-hander Aaron Shafer is slated to start today for the RedHawks. St. Paul is expected to counter with right-hander Todd Mathison. … The RedHawks are 8-12 at Newman Outdoor Field this season.

ST. PAUL REDHAWKS

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Frost ss 3 2 1 0 Pnprse ss 4 0 0 0

Hrnndz rf 5 1 4 1 Pdroza rf 4 1 1 1

Rpport cf 2 0 1 2 Jckson cf 5 1 3 0

Sheldn dh 4 1 1 1 Dlgado dh 5 1 1 0

Brquin 1b 5 1 1 0 Gaston lf 3 1 2 0

Cbrera lf 4 0 0 0 Stovall 3b 3 0 0 1

TTwnd 3b 2 0 0 0 Rdrguz 1b 5 0 1 1

Jhnson c 4 1 1 0 Jnnings c 2 0 0 1

JTwnd 2b 3 1 1 0 Cota 2b 5 1 2 0

Totals 32 7 10 4 Totals 36 5 10 4

St. Paul 011 000 014–7 10 0

RedHawks 010 022 000–5 10 1

E–Jackson (2). LOB–St. Paul 8, RedHawks 13. DP–St. Paul 0, RedHawks 4. 2B–Rapoport (6), Townsend (9), Jackson (16), Delgado (13), Gaston 2 (5), Cota (7). HR–Sheldon (9), Pedroza (5).

ST. PAUL

IP H R ER BB SO

Schuld 5 5 3 3 5 5

Mahon 1 3 2 2 0 0

Anderson 1 0 0 0 0 0

Claggett W 1 1 0 0 1 1

Carr 0 1 0 0 0 0

Klabunde S 1 0 0 0 1 1

REDHAWKS

IP H R ER BB SO

Burnside 6 6 2 2 6 3

Dahman 2 1 1 1 0 1

Zenko L 0 3 4 4 1 0

Harris 1 0 0 0 0 1

Umpires–Home: McCaffrey. First: Linton. Third: Bakke. Time–3:32. A–5,144.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com