Seven-run Omaha sixth sinks Saints

Keon Broxton, known for his defensive prowess, could only shrug his shoulders and chalk it up to karma.

The Saints center fielder, who has struggled at the plate all season, hit a long drive to left-center field in the fourth inning Sunday night at CHS Field that had the look of a three-run home run that would have given the Saints a 7-0 lead against the Omaha Storm Chasers.

Instead, Omaha center fielder Kyle Isbel raced back, and with his glove above the wall made the inning-ending catch.

Tough luck for Broxton, and a sign of things to come for the Saints.

After being held to two hits and no runs by Saints starter Chandler Shepherd through five innings, the Storm Chasers erupted for seven runs in the sixth against the Saints’ bullpen and went on to a 10-6 victory.

“It kinda sucks to be on the other end of that,” Broxton said.“I thought I hit it well enough that no one would have a shot at it. I guess it was just my time to get robbed.”

The Saints homered in the first inning for the fourth straight game and fifth time in the six-game series.

Drew Maggi’s two-run homer to left gave him a home run in four straight games.

Leading 3-0, and with Shepherd in control, it looks like the Saints were on their way to taking five of six in the series.

Then the sixth inning happened.

“Shepherd threw the ball great; he was outstanding,” Saints manager Toby Gardenhire said.“We did everything right up to that point.’’

Shepherd still looked strong when he was removed from the game, a point that Gardenhire didn’t dispute.

“There are reasons we have to do things like that,” he said. “We have a lot of pitchers, and guys out there (in the bullpen) that need to throw and get into the game. Sometimes that’s the hardest part of minor league baseball.”

The latest addition to the Saints’ roster, reliever Joe Harvey, made his debut and gave up three runs in the sixth to tie the game.

He recorded only one out before giving way to Kyle Barraclough, who struggled as well.

Barraclough gave up a three-run home run and a solo homer as the Storm Chasers sent 11 batters to the plate in the inning.

Broxton, who came into the game hitting .169, did get his homer in the seventh when the Saints scored three runs, and he added single in the eighth. He feels he finally has something to build on.

“I think over the last week I have come back to being the player I am accustomed to,” he said. “It’s just trying not to cast out too early and hit the ball out front. I’m sitting back and letting the ball come to me and trusting my swing.’’

Said Gardenhire: “It’s good to see him get some good at-bats. He’s been battling all year; he’s had a real tough go. It’s tough when he has some good swings and he doesn’t get rewarded.”

One good swing in particular.

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