KANSAS CITY, KS (September 14, 2018) – The St. Paul Saints couldn’t have drawn it up any better. Facing one of the best pitchers in the league they jumped out to a 3-0 lead. They turned it over to their bullpen, which had been lights out all season long, with a two run lead, but a six-run sixth highlighted by a grand slam from former Major Leaguer Todd Cunningham, was too much to overcome as they lost 7-3 in Game 3 of the American Association Finals. The loss means the Saints trail the best-of-five series two-games-to-one.
With the Saints leading 3-1 in the sixth Evan Mitchell took over for starter Trevor Foss. Adrian Nieto led off with a double down the third base line. He advanced to third on a wild pitch and Keith Curcio walked. Alay Lago then hit a broken bat grounder to short that Joey Wong charged and threw home, but catcher Justin O’Conner couldn’t hang on to the throw allowing Nieto to score making it 3-2. After Mitchell struck out Danny Hayes, Beck Wheeler came into the game for the Saints. Former Saint Anthony Phillips worked a walk to load the bases. Ryan Brett then singled to left scoring Curcio, but Dan Motl was able to throw out Lago to keep the game tied at three. Wheeler then walked Mason Davis to load the bases and that brought up Cunningham. He drilled a grand slam over the right field wall, his second homer of the night and second of the playoffs, for the eventual deciding runs.
The Saints jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first off of Tommy Collier, who had the fourth best ERA in the league, on a solo homer by Kyle Barrett, his first of the playoffs.
In the second the Saints continued to put pressure on Cunningham. Nathaniel Maggio led off with a single to center. Dan Motl sacrificed him to second. Joey Wong made it 2-0 with an RBI single to center and advanced to second on the throw home. With two outs Barrett dropped an RBI single into center scoring Wong giving the Saints a 3-0 lead.
Saints starter Trevor Foss worked out of a second inning jam when he loaded the bases with one out, but got Phillips to ground into an inning ending double play.
In the third, Foss retired the first two batters, but Cunningham slugged an opposite field solo homer to left, his first of the night, making it 3-1. Foss went 5.0 innings allowing one run on five hits while walking two and striking out three, unfortunately, the bullpen wasn’t able to hold it.
Game 4 of the American Association Finals is Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. The Saints send LHP Chris Nunn (7-3, 3.05/1-1, 4.09) to the mound and the T-Bones are TBA.