LINCOLN — Shairon Martis was brilliant, striking out nine to lead the Saltdogs (48-43) to a 4-0 victory over the St. Paul Saints (57-35) in front of 4,558 fans at Haymarket Park Saturday night.
J.R. Bunda and Evan Reed chipped in to pitch Lincoln’s 10th shutout of the season, a new franchise record. The Saltdogs remain 1/2 game behind Gary for first place, and tied in the loss column with nine to play.
Martis (9-7) scattered four hits with two walks in seven shutout frames, pitching out of a two-on, no-out and bases-loaded, no-out predicament to earn the win.
The 29-year old from Willemstad, Curacao caught a searing come backer inches from his face to spark a double play that capped off his magnificent outing.
Juan Martinez delivered a two-out, two-strike RBI double to put Lincoln in front 1-0 in the fourth.
The Saltdogs added three more in the sixth on an RBI single from Jon Smith that led to three runs when St. Paul center fielder Alonzo Harris over-ran the ball and it rolled all the way to the wall.
Robert Coe fanned seven in the losing effort, passing Charlie Ruud for first place on St. Paul’s all-time strikeout list.
During the middle of the fourth inning, the 2016 Lincoln Saltdogs player awards were announced: Brad Orosey (Rookie of the Year); Brandon Jacobs (Newcomer); Lindsey Caughel and Evan Reed (Pitchers); Curt Smith (Player).
The rubber game, and home finale, is Sunday evening at 5:05 p.m. RHP Lindsey Caughel is expected to face LHP Corey Williams. Radio coverage begins at 4:35 p.m. on KFOR FM 103.3/1240 AM.