St. Cloud, MN – The St. Cloud Rox tallied the go-ahead run in the eighth inning of Saturday night’s game to survive the late-inning Thunder Bay comeback and sweep the series, winning 4-3 at Joe Faber Field. The Rox are now 9-3 on the season and are in sole possession of first place in the North Division of the Northwoods League after their three-game winning streak dating back to Thursday.
The Rox struck early for the third consecutive night on Saturday, getting a run in the bottom of the first as Seth Heck led off the inning with a double down the left field line, and later scored off a sacrifice fly to left from Chris Paul to make it 1-0.
St. Cloud tallied two more in the third inning as Paul came through with the big swing with runners in scoring position again. This time, Heck and Charles Galiano scored from first and second respectively with two outs as Paul sent a towering fly ball to right field that went just over the glove of Thunder Bay’s Robb Paller to make it 3-0 early. Paul finished the night as the only player in the game with multiple hits, as he also drove in three of St. Cloud’s four runs while going 2-for-3.
Rox starting pitcher Josh Taylor found a groove early in the game to silence the Border Cats for the first portion, giving up two hits through five innings and at one time retiring 10 Border Cats in order while striking out two. Taylor gave up one run in the fifth before running in to trouble in the sixth inning, as Thunder Bay got two more runs thanks to three hits in the inning to tie the game with one out. Dalton Sawyer then relieved Taylor in the sixth and proceeded to strike out two batters to end the Thunder Bay threat and keep the game tied at three-apiece.
The game stayed at that clip until the eighth inning as the Rox finally got back on the board with the game-winning run. Thunder Bay had a chance to take the lead with a runner in scoring position in the top of the eighth, but Kevin Burgee came in for Sawyer with two outs and forced an infield pop up to keep the game even. Eric Loxtercamp then led off the bottom of the inning with a walk and later advanced to second on a stolen base, and third on a wild pitch to put the go-ahead run just 90 feet away from scoring. Clay Ardeeser then slapped a double down the left field line to score Loxtercamp and put the Rox ahead for the final score of the game, 4-3.
Burgee allowed a base runner in the ninth inning with one out, but Galiano gunned out the runner attempting to steal at second base as Burgee recorded a ground out for out number three to end the game. Burgee picked up the victory for his relief effort (2-0), as he has now thrown 7.1 innings in 2014 without giving up a run. Paul brought his batting average up to .405 with his two-hit performance, as he has now gone 8-for-14 in the last three games, totaling three doubles and two home runs in that span.
The Rox will now play Alexandria Sunday at Joe Faber Field at 1:05 p.m., before heading to Alexandria for one game Monday and following up with a two-game series in Mankato beginning Tuesday. Sunday will be Pink in the Park Day at Joe Faber Field, as the Rox will wear special pink jerseys that will be auctioned off after the game with proceeds going to the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, presented by the Center For Diagnostic Imaging.
For the full game boxscore, go to http://www.pointstreak.com/baseball/boxscore.html?gameid=210224
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