DES MOINES, IA (September 16, 2023) - The St. Paul Saints are one of the top three teams in the International League, trailing just the Norfolk Tides and Durham Bulls for overall record. Unfortunately, the way the playoff system works in the International League, the Saints won’t be playing any
_DES MOINES, IA _*(September 16, 2023) - *The St. Paul Saints are one of the top three teams in the International League, trailing just the Norfolk Tides and Durham Bulls for overall record. Unfortunately, the way the playoff system works in the International League, the Saints won’t be playing any postseason games in 2023. By virtue of the Bulls win over Louisville and the Saints 7-5 loss on Saturday night at Principal Park against the Iowa Cubs, the Saints are 7.0 games back of the Bulls in the second half with seven games to play. The Saints lost the second half series to the Bulls and therefore have been eliminated from playoff contention. The loss drops the Saints to 37-31 in the second half.
The I-Cubs came out flying with help from the Saints defense in the first. With one out, Jared Young tripled to center when DaShawn Keirsey Jr. took a step back, tried to recover and dove forward, but the ball skipped by him. Matt Mervis made it 1-0 on an RBI double to right. After a walk to David Bote, pitcher Patrick Murphy fielded a tapper by Bryce Windham, but as he went to underhand to first he dropped the ball and the error loaded the bases. Luis Vazquez then hit a slow chopper to short that went under the glove of Hernán Pérez that allowed two runs to score making it 3-0.
Chase Strumpf led off the bottom of the second for the I-Cubs with a solo homer to right, his 13th of the season, making it 4-0.
The I-Cubs continued to pour it on in the third. Three straight singles by Windham, Vazquez, and Brennen Davis plated a run increasing the lead to 5-0. A sacrifice fly from Cole Roederer made it 6-0.
After 14 in a row were retired by I-Cubs starter Caleb Kilian from the third batter of the game through the end of the fifth innning, the Saints finally broke through in the sixth. Gilberto Celestino led off the inning with a walk. With two outs Austin Martin, who had collected the only hit up to that point, singled into right putting runners at the corners. Martin stole second and the catcher Windham’s throw went into center allowing Celestino to score, making it 6-1. Trevor Larnach made it 6-2 with an RBI single to left.
The I-Cubs answered back with a run of their in the bottom of the inning. Strumpf led off by reaching on an error by Pérez at short. A groundout moved Strumpf to second and he scored on a single by Young giving the I-Cubs a 7-2 lead.
The Saints made it interesting in the eighth. Back-to-back walks to Celestino and Anthony Prato to lead off the inning put runners at first and second. Michael Helman roped an RBI double to left getting the Saints to within 7-3. An RBI groundout by Martin and a sac fly from Larnach cut the deficit to 7-5.
The Saints had an opportunity in the ninth when Yunior Severino led off the inning with a walk and Celestino singled with two outs. After a pitching change brought in left-hander Brenden Little, the Saints countered by pinch hitting Kyle Garlick for Prato. Garlick, however, struck out on three pitches to end the game.
The same two teams meet in the finale of the six-game series on Sunday afternoon at Principal Park at 1:08 p.m. The Saints send RHP David Festa (1-0, 2.79) to the mound and the I-Cubs are TBA. The game can be heard on KFAN Plus, 96.7 FM.