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X's come up short in extra innings

Article courtesy of the Sioux City Journal

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The wind was blowing out to left field Sunday afternoon at Midway Stadium, but it wasn’t where the winning run scored.


Jim Rapoport, the leadoff batter for the St. Paul Saints, chased Jon Townsend to home plate on a hard-hit RBI single over the head of centerfielder Brandon Newton with one out in the bottom half of the 11th inning. The Saints, with the walk-off 6-5 American Association victory, took the rubber game of the three from Manager Stan Cliburn’s Explorers.


Rapoport hit the game-winner over an Explorer who had doubled and added two singles. However, Newton was also picked off second base after a double that started the game.


St. Paul’s leadoff batter was among six players to hit home runs in front of 4,964 on a humid, sunny, 88-degree afternoon. Four of the game's seven home runs sailed over the left-field bleachers as right-handed hitters took advantage of 18-mile per hour breezes.


Kris Sanchez, the Explorers’ 6-foot-3, 230-pound first baseman, hit a pair of solo home runs for Sioux City (5-5). Sanchez cleared the wall in left-center in the second inning and forced the game’s third tie with a shot over center field in the eighth inning to knot the score 5-5.


Sanchez is now tied with the Saints’ Ole Sheldon for the league home run lead, each at four. Sheldon, incidentally, homered over left field in the fifth.


Michael Lang hit his third home run of the young season in the second inning. Ray Serrano extended his hitting streak to nine games with the contest’s lone two-run home run, recorded in the fifth inning.


St. Paul (6-4) also got a solo home run from Tanner Townsend in the second inning, yet another drive into the left-field wind.


The majority of the round-trippers came against the two teams’ pitching aces. Explorers’ starter Nick Schumacher, who went into the game with a 2-0 record, yielded two home runs and five other hits in six innings of work.


It marked the first time this season that Schumacher didn’t last seven innings. The 6-4, 230-pound right hander yielded an unearned run in the first inning and thought he had fanned No. 9 batter Jake Krause with the Townsend brothers at the corners in the bottom of the fourth inning.


Schumacher started to leave the mound, but home plate umpire Mike Neubeck sent him back, calling a ball that stunned the former Wayne State College athlete and led to the ejection of Explorers' pitching coach James Frisbie. Krause then delivered an RBI single into short left field to give St. Paul a 3-2 lead.


St. Paul starter Wes Roemer entered with a 1-0 record and a sensational 1.29 ERA. However, Roemer was also roughed up, yielding 11 hits in six innings. Included among those were the second-inning home runs by Sanchez and Lang along with Serrano’s shot good for a 4-3 lead.


The lead changed hands for the fifth time on Rapoport’s solo home run off reliever Andrew Snowdon in the seventh inning.


St. Paul bullpen ace Dan Sattler walked his first two batters of the season in the ninth (Lang) and 10th (Sanchez), but the Explorers couldn’t take advantage. Jon Plefka (0-1), the fourth reliever utilized by Cliburn, allowed the game-winning run.


The Explorers are off today. A six-game homestand begins Tuesday when Grand Prairie visits Lewis and Clark Park for the first of a three-game series.