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Saints outlast Explorers in three game series

Starting on August 9th the Saints hosted the Sioux City Explorers for a three game series at Midway Stadium. The Saints took two of three from the visiting team and continued their winning ways at home. You just have to love the home TRAIN advantage Midway has provided the Saints this year.

Pitcher Mark Hamburger in the Saints Aints jersey's for Atheist night

The first game of the series featured another very strong outing by Saints pitcher Mark Hamburger. Unfortunately the Saints offense was not able to provide much help for him, scoring only one run in the game. Hamburger pitched another complete game (his fourth of the season) but ended up taking the loss, as the Saints fell 3-1 to the Explorers. I have to believe Hamburger is setting himself up for another shot with a big league organization the way his has pitched for the Saints. In my opinion he has proved this year that the past is the past and that he has the stuff to get outs at any level. The homer in me hopes the Twins are the team to give this home town kid his second chance. The promotion for the game was, A Night of Unbelievable Fun - The Second Coming presented by Minnesota Atheists. For the game the Saints wore jerseys with the name Aints and Mr. Paul (instead the normal Saints and St. Paul). These jerseys, like other promotion night jerseys, were auctioned off to fans in a silent auction during the game. The Saints also sold Aints t-shirts during the game for men with the Aints and Mr. Paul logo, and for women with the Aints and Mrs Paul logo. The promotion provided some very entertaining in between inning fan contests. Ranging from an Atheist race where the fans participating had to dive head first down a slip and slide, put on a monkey head mask, and then run to a finish line that did not exist as the race just kept going and going, to the What's in the Bag game where nothing was the prize in the bag. My MVP for the game is Mark Hamburger (9IP, 1ER, 9K's)

Stadium Correspondent Brian Kelly and an Intern watch the candy peanut contest

Saturday's second game of the series saw the Saints offense come to life late in the game, and also the defense turn it up tying a American Association League record by turning five double plays in one game. With the Saints trailing 5-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning new Saints power hitter Brian Burgamy (who signed with the Saints Friday and had played in the Mexican and York of the Atlantic leagues this year) hit a three run homer to tie the game at five. Then in the eighth Dan Kaczrowski collected his third hit of the night with a two RBI single to give the Saints a lead they would not relinquish. The Saints won the game 7-5. The promotion for the night was Buy Me Anything Other than Peanuts and Cracker Jack Because this Game is Peanut Free! Presented by Midwest Ear, Nose and Throat. This promotion was taken two ways by fans in attendance for the game. One way was, the correct way, that Midway was a peanut free environment for the night for fans with peanut allergies. The second was that there would be free peanuts given away at the park that night, catch the sarcasm? You have to love Saints fans! Also during the game was a contest where two fans wearing elephant head hats competed to see who could fit the most candy peanuts in their mouth at one time during the allotted time. My MVP for the game is Dan Kaczrowski (3-4, 2 2B, 2R, BB, 2RBI) with honorable mention to Brian Burgamy (1-2, R, 2BB, 3RBI, HR)

The Saints waiting to celebrate with Brian Burgamy after his game winning home run

The series finally was played on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in St. Paul, and thank goodness it was gorgeous out because the Saints and Explorers decided to play twelve innings for our baseball watching enjoyment. Both teams scored three runs in the first four innings of the game (two in the second, one in the fourth for the Saints, and two in the third, one in the fourth for the Explorers). The pitching staff then took the game over holding both teams scoreless through the eleventh inning. An interesting comment was overheard in the stands during the eleventh inning "This game better end soon or I'm going to miss 60 Minutes", as the time was getting close to 5:00pm. Just can't make it up. Then in the twelfth, Saints pitcher Dylan Thomas shut down the Explorers one, two, three opening the door for another exciting walk off win for the Saints. With one out and Dan Kaczrowski on first Brian Burgamy stepped to the plate and quickly sent the first pitch he saw over the fence in right field. YES!!! It was another walk off home run for the Saints in front of the home crowd! The promotion for the game was, Half Pint Heroes Day presented by Memorial Blood Centers. This game for me was memorable more for the promotions/contests that took place after the ninth inning than any that happened during the game. It is my best guess that the Saints only plan promotions/contests through the ninth inning, so if the game goes into extra innings everything that happens in between these innings is spur of the moment. A couple of the memorable moments from the extra frames were, P.A. announcer Halsey Lindquist betting his partner Lee Adams that he could run around the warning track of the field (starting and ending at home plate) in an inning break (inning breaks are only 90 seconds long).  He made it with 15 seconds to spare. Next there was a Stupid Intern Tricks contest. Very amusing, with three interns doing the best trick they could think of quick. One spun a basketball on his finger, one balanced a rake on end on his chin, and one put a leg behind his head while on his back on the field. And lastly their was a Intern Dance Fest to the song The Harlem Shake where all of the interns were wearing any and all costumes they could find in the stadium last minute to put on. Awesome job by the Saints and their staff/interns to keep the crowd entertained during the long Sunday afternoon game. My MVP for the game is Brian Burgamy (1-4, R, 2BB, 2RBI, HR) with honorable mention to Jon Plefka (3IP, 2K's, 0ER)

Ole Sheldon stepping in for one of his last at bats with the Saints

Sunday's game was also one that caused mixed emotions. It was announced prior to the start that this would be Saints slugger Ole Sheldon's last game in a Saints uniform. Ole was leaving the team for good to pursue his next career, being a teacher in Florida. The Saints had a very nice ceremony for him at the beginning of the game. Ole threw out a first pitch to Manager George Tsamis catching. The two then embraced on the field and slowly walked to the dugout, Ole tipping his cap to the standing ovation he received from the crowd. The Saints also gave away a signed Ole Sheldon jersey in their What's in the Bag contest later in the game to a lucky fan. Good luck in the future Ole! You will be missed in a Saints uniform!

The Saints next home stand began the following day against the Sioux Falls Canaries. Stay tuned for my next blog coming soon. As you could expect the series was filled with great moments and lots more fun.

Go Saints!