Canaries starter Joe Bircher needed one good pitch to get out of a one-out, bases loaded jam in the seventh inning. He got the groundball he needed, but a throwing error allowed two runs to score, giving the Saints the 3-2 lead, and the win on Sunday evening.
Sioux Falls trailed 1-0 early on, but after back-to-back base hits from Stephen Branca and Steve Tinoco in the third, Brandon Jones put the Birds' out in front with a two-out RBI single, driving in both base runners.
Jones finished the evening 1-for-4, and has now hit safely in every game this season for Sioux Falls. Branca had another good night at the plate going 3-for-4 with a run scored, raising his batting average to .306 overall.
Bircher entered the seventh having retired nine consecutive batters, but after giving up a leadoff single and walking saints shortstop Joey Becker, the southpaw found himself in a tight spot.
He retired Dwight Childs on a sacrifice bunt, but both runners advanced into scoring position on the play, leaving first base wide open. Bircher would intentionally walk Brandon Wikoff, bringing Joe Bonfe to the plate and setting up the possible inning-ending double play. Bonfe placed a well hit ball between first and second, forcing second basemen Chris Valencia to his left. Valencia made an off balance throw, skipping it away from the first base bag. The errant throw allowed the go-ahead, and eventually winning run to cross home plate, giving St. Paul the 3-2 lead.
Bircher (0-1) suffers his first loss of the summer, but worked 6 1/3 strong innings, allowing three runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out three.
Sioux Falls will try to get back into the win column on Monday night when they open up a three game series against the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks at Newman Outdoor Field.
Ben Moore (1-0, 4.37 ERA) will make his third start of the summer for Sioux Falls in the series opener.
After completing the four game series in St. Paul, the Canaries will head to Fargo for three games and then return to the Birdcage Thursday May 29th at 7:05 PM to take on the Kansas City T-Bones for Tattoo night and Thirsty Thursday. 12 oz. beers will be just $1 until first pitch, and $2.50 after. Tickets can be purchased at the Sioux Falls Stadium box office, by calling 605-336-6060 or by visiting Ticketmaster.
Courtesy: J.J. Hartigan, Canaries