In seven games this season, Wingnuts pitchers have gotten a good idea of what it was like to pitch to their potent lineup last season.
St. Paul's middle three hitters — Ole Sheldon, Jason Cooper and Brent Krause — are reminiscent of Greg Porter, Kelly Hunt and Dustan Mohr, who combined for 55 of the Wingnuts' 86 home runs last season.
The three powerful Saints were in the middle of three-run scoring innings Monday, and No. 3 hitter Ole Sheldon had four RBIs in St. Paul's 7-4 win at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
"I'm in a unique situation, because I have someone like Cooper and then Krause, who are both more established hitters than myself, hitting behind me," Sheldon said. "It's a comfortable place to hit. Those guys are very good with very good approaches, and it makes it tough on the pitchers to have to come after all of us like that."
Monday, Sheldon, Cooper and Krause combined to go 7 for 13 with five RBIs. During the series, which the teams split, they were 19 for 46 with three homers and 12 RBIs. They also were key in St. Paul's season-opening sweep of the Wingnuts in Minnesota.
They were never retired in order Monday. Wingnuts starter Adam Cowart retired Sheldon and Cooper the first time through the order before allowing a single to Krause. Cowart avoided major damage until the three came up for a second time.
"Pick your poison," Sheldon said. "If you're going to throw to me, then I like my chances. But if not, I like the chances of the guys behind me. So it's really my job to get on base, and if they do make a mistake then it's my job to hit a mistake."
The mistakes started to pile up for Cowart in the third inning. Steve Mays led off with a single and two batters later Josh Alley delivered a one-out hit to set the table for St. Paul's three big hitters.
Cowart didn't get deep into St. Paul's dangerous trio before unraveling. Sheldon took him out to left field for a three-run home run. Four batters later and after an error, Hector Estrella hit an RBI single to put St. Paul ahead 4-0.
"There's just certain situations where you can't let certain guys beat you," Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. "We've done that a couple times lately, and you live and you learn from it."
Sheldon doubled in the fourth and scored on a Cooper single. Krause also singled in the inning, setting up and RBI single by Gerard Haran.
In the eighth, Sheldon hit a sacrifice fly to deep center against left-handed reliever Dustin Pease on the first pitch with the lefty-hitting Cooper on deck.
"Early on in the year, I'm letting guys learn that you can't give Sheldon anything to hit (in run-scoring situations)," Hooper said. " If you get behind 2-0, we're putting him on, anyway. You've got to learn what your players can do and what they can't, so maybe next time you've got to put him on with four pitches."
Smsng cf-lf4100Horn ss3111
Allen dh5120Williams lf4010
Sheldon 1b4234Patterson rf3100
Smith cf0000Delgado dh3112
Cooper 1b-lf5111Thompson 3b4010
Krause rf4130Pearson 1b4010
Haran c5011Colton cf3000
Estrella 2b4011Christy c4000
Butler 3b4010Brooks 2b3120
St. Paul004 200 010 —7 Wichita002 000 020 —4
E — Estrella, Thompson. LOB — St. Paul 9, Wichita 4. 2B — Allen (2), Sheldon (5), Horn (2). HR — Sheldon (5), Delgado (2). SF — Sheldon. SB — Krause (1).
Cowart L,0-13 2/3106513
WP — Foster. HBP — Colton (by Mathison). T — 2:35. A — 1,543.