As the Haymarket Park crowd became sparse, so did the Saltdogs' bench. But there was enough depth there for Lincoln to pull off a 3-2 win in 15 innings over St. Paul at Haymarket Park on Wednesday.
Lincoln took the series 2-1 after defeating the Saints 6-3 Tuesday.
John Sansone delivered the wake up call for the Saltdogs with an RBI double in the bottom of the 15th inning of a contest that lasted 4 hours, 28 minutes. Lincoln's longest game as a member of the American Association came May 15, 2014, in Kansas City against the T-Bones — 16 innings and 5 hours, 30 minutes.
“I just heard (manager) Bobby (Brown) from the dugout say, 'Look up the middle, other way,' because I was kind of pulling everything," Sansone said. "He (Saints pitcher Ryan Schlosser) left a changeup up, and I got a good swing on it.”
Curt Smith was hit by a pitch to begin the inning and scored from first after Sansone delivered a shot to the wall in left-center field.
“I was just hoping it got down and Curt scores,” Sansone said.
The game got to the 15th after both teams only scored one run apiece through nine innings.
"To be honest with you, the seven years I've managed in the league, that is the best pitched game I have ever seen," Brown said. "It was guy after guy after guy making pitch after pitch after pitch."
In the 10th, St. Paul took a brief 2-1 lead helped by three wild pitches before Lincoln's Cody Regis had two-out RBI single that scored pinch runner Colton Burns.
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Regis was later tossed for arguing with the umpire after striking out, leaving the Saltdogs bench exhausted.
After Jake Hohensee threw two innings of relief, he was seen in the Saltdogs' dugout with batting gloves, but Brown had reliever Kyle Kinman hit. Because Regis was ejected, Lincoln had to shuffle around the infield, moving Smith from designated hitter to first base.
“We burned two guys with one move to try and tie the game in the eighth or ninth inning, or whatever inning it was,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, (Regis) got thrown out and we had to kill our DH and the pitcher spot had to hit. Kinman was a two-way guy in college and has been taking some (batting practice) here. I thought the reward was worth the risk to go with Kinman.”
Lincoln starting pitcher Ricky Knapp pitched seven innings and allowed just two hits and a run, Burt Reynolds' first homer of the season in the seventh to tie game 1-1. The Saltdogs grabbed a 1-0 lead when Christian Ibarra led off the bottom of the first inning with a solo home run.
Tyler Anderson, whose only two mound appearances in the past four years have come this season, picked up the win with a hitless 15th inning after surrendering a leadoff walk.
“It was a little nerve-wracking at first,” Anderson said. “I just needed to settle in a bit and trust my teammates.
“It was awesome when (Curt) scored. The energy was high and a great feeling.”
The Saltdogs used seven pitchers Wednesday.
The win concluded a 4-3 homestand for Lincoln, which is now 7-6 and hitting the road to face the Milwaukee Milkmen in Kokomo, Indiana, at 1 p.m. Friday. There were weather-related delays in construction for the Milkmen's home field in Franklin, Wisconsin, forcing the venue change.