It was a playoff-like atmosphere on Friday night at CHS Field, and for good reason, as the Saints were just two games up on the RedHawks in the North Division standings.
After jumping out to an early 2-0 lead, the Saints took advantage of an adventurous fourth inning to put up five runs.
The theatrics started in the top of the inning with Leobaldo Pena batting. There were two outs and a 2-1 count. Pena took a low strike and stepped out of the box to regroup. Home plate umpire Marty Bauer appeared on replays to tell Pena to get back into the box, and a second or two later Bauer called strike three.
Pena was clearly unhappy with the call and was very vocal in expressing his displeasure. Manager Michael Schlact came out of the dugout to argue the call and try to keep Pena in the game, but as Pena went back to the dugout he flipped his helmet back towards the field, which was seen by third-base umpire Darryl Cooper, who ejected him from the game.
After a few moments where it seemed chaos had broken out on the field, order was restored, with Schlact staying in the game.
In the bottom of the inning, the Saints got five runs on six hits, including a solo home run from Justin O’Conner and a two-run home run from Max Murphy. Zach Walters picked up an RBI single, while Nathaniel Maggio also had an RBI single in the inning.
The Saints weren’t done after that, as they totaled four home runs on the night when Burt Reynolds and Brady Shoemaker went back-to-back in the bottom of the eighth to push it to a 9-1 lead. Dante Bichette Jr. doubled to left-center and advanced to third on an infield single from Maggio before scoring on a wild pitch to make it a 10-1 lead.
That was more than enough runs for the Saints pitching staff, as Jake Mathys started and went 6 1/3 innings, giving up one run and four hits. Mike Devine followed with one and two-thirds innings worth of perfect baseball before giving way to Zack Jones for the ninth.
Jones worked a perfect ninth, racking up two strikeouts to end the game.
The Saints and RedHawks will square off for the final time in the regular season on Saturday night at CHS Field. The Saints will send LHP Chris Nunn to the mound, while the RedHawks have tabbed RHP Brandon Barker to start.
First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.
- With his single in the fourth inning, Maggio extended his hitting streak to 19 games. The last game that he did not record a hit in was July 29 against Texas. He currently holds the team record for longest hitting streak this season.
- This was the second straight night and the third time this season that the Saints have hit four home runs in a game.
- Bichette also extended his hit streak with his single in the first inning. He has now hit in 16 consecutive games.