07/04/2003 4:00 PM - The St. Paul Saints clinched the Northern League Eastern Division title in their 9-2 victory over the Kansas City T-Bones Friday night.
Chris Begg (7-0) gained sole possession of first place in wins for the Northern League by confusing T-Bones hitters all night long. He only allowed three hits and two unearned runs in seven innings of work while walking three and striking out seven. Leland Swensons error in the fifth inning let in the tying and go-ahead runs to give the T-Bones a temporary 2-1 lead and their only two runs of the game.
In the top of the sixth, the fireworks not only began on the Kansas City horizon, but also on the field for the Saints. After getting the first two outs quickly, T-Bones starter Tony Gomes (1-1) walked Ryan Kane. Eliezer Alfonzo followed that with a double into the left-centerfield corner that scored Kane. The Saints would pound out four more hits against reliever Tom Masterman that gave the Saints a 6-2 lead from which they would not look back.
Begg, Tim Christman and Chris Chavez would allow only one more hit to shut down the T-Bones offense. Only Taber Maier, Sean Murphy, and Eric Johnson would record hits, all of them singles.
Scott McKee led the way offensively for the Saints by going two for five with a home run and three RBI. The homerun was his second of the season, giving the Saints their final runs of the game.
The two teams meet again tomorrow night for the second game of their three game series. Brandon Matheny makes his first start of the season against Brian Buchanan for St. Paul. The game will begin at 7:05 p.m.