« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Jayson Jenks / Special to The Forum, Published September 07 2010

Northern League: RedHawks win, host Gary in semis

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks manager Doug Simunic stood in the office of the visiting clubhouse, and talked about the recently finished season and the upcoming playoffs.

Outside, in front of their lockers, players laughed and picked at postgame food sitting on their plates.

Then, in perfect rhythm with his surroundings, Simunic relayed his team’s current message.

“As they said in Cinderella Man,” Simunic said, “‘The table is set. Now on to the entrée.’ ”

F-M capped its regular season with a 9-6 win at Kansas City on Monday, but it didn’t really matter. Not in the scheme of things.

The RedHawks clinched a playoff birth on Aug. 27, and sealed up the Northern League regular-season title with a 22-4 win against the T-Bones on Saturday.

The final two games of the Kansas City series were formalities before F-M, the No. 1 seed, prepared to defend its Northern League title in a four-team playoff.

The RedHawks (61-39) will play host to Gary SouthShore at Newman Outdoor Field on Wednesday in a best-of-5 series.

“Simmy kind of likes it for bragging rights, just to tell everyone we’re in first place,” RedHawks catcher Alan Rick said. “As a player, you kind of just go out there. It’s whatever.”

In capturing first place, F-M relied on a powerful offense and a pitching staff that limited opponents.

The RedHawks drove in the second-most runs and hit the second-most home runs. The pitching staff, in turn, gave up the fewest runs, fewest hits and tied for the second-fewest allowed home runs entering the season’s final game.

And its pitching that drew the most attention of Simunic and his players when looking ahead to the playoffs.

Simunic said he didn’t know who would start the opening games, but he did emphasize the importance of his pitchers keeping the offense within striking distance.

“Flat out, we’ve got to pitch,” said RedHawks outfielder Nic Jackson. “If our pitchers can go deep into games and keep the runs to a minimal and then we hit the ball, that’s how we’re going to win games.”

The RedHawks list 11 players on their roster who played on the 2009 championship team – a group that entered the playoffs the No. 3 seed and needed to win two elimination games in the first round.

Those experiences – the ones that define whether a team wins or loses in the playoffs – have stuck with many of the current RedHawks.

“We were on our last legs, and we pulled it out,” Jackson said. “A lot of guys experienced that. Nothing is going to surprise us in the playoffs.”

And, according to players, F-M has one more non-traditional aspect leaning in its favor

After their win against Kansas City, music blared and players joked with each other in the clubhouse. In the moments after a win, and with the playoffs looming on the horizon, most teams would certainly relax.

But the RedHawks insist that their ability to remain even keeled has been a central part of the team’s regular-season success.

“We’re a pretty loose group,” infielder Jeremiah Piepkorn said. “Effort may go up just a little bit in the playoffs, but we’re pretty much the same group every day. That’s why we’ve won games.”

That appeared to be the case on Monday.

After Kansas City took a 4-1 lead in the third inning, Fargo-Moorhead responded with a seven-run scoring outburst in the fourth.

Jay Cox hit a three-run homer and Mike Coles smacked a two-RBI double in the inning. Rick and Eric Campbell each hit solo home runs.

Fargo-Moorhead used seven pitchers but none worked more than two innings in preparation for the playoffs. Now, the RedHawks have their eyes set on defending their title.

“I’m proud of what my team has been able to do to this point,” Simunic said. “But there are still six more wins out there. Everybody knows that.”

REDHAWKS KANSAS CITY

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Coles rf 5 1 1 2 Simon cf 5 0 1 1

Jcksn cf 5 0 2 1 Blckwd 2b 5 0 0 0

Cmpbll 3b 4 1 1 1 Mrtnz dh 3 2 3 3

Ppkrn 1b 5 1 0 0 White ph 1 0 0 0

Hrlbke dh 5 2 3 1 Sadler rf 5 2 2 0

Cox lf 4 1 2 3 Fasano 1b 4 0 1 1

Cota 2b 4 1 1 0 Wshgtn 3b 4 0 2 1

Rick c 4 1 2 1 Joynt lf 3 0 0 0

Pnprse ss 3 1 0 0 Hrndz c 4 0 0 0

Mojica ss 2 2 0 0

Totals 39 9 12 9 Totals 36 6 9 6

RedHawks 001 700 100–9 12 1

Kansas City 202 101 000–6 9 1

E–Penprase (19), Washington (5). 2B–Coles (27), Jackson 2 (30), Simon (17), Fasano (15), Washington (16). HR–Campbell (22), J. Hoorelbeke (29), Cox (10), Rick (11), Martinez 2 (10). SB–Coles (25), Cota 2 (15), Penprase (41), Mojica (24). CS–Jackson (3), Washington (6).

REDHAWKS

IP H R ER BB SO

Petrusek 2 3 2 2 0 1

Gregory 2 4 3 2 1 1

Patton 1Zc 1 1 1 1 0

Fellman Xc 1 0 0 0 1

Tollefson Xc 0 0 0 0 1

Smith, W 1Zc 0 0 0 0 2

C. Horlbke 1 0 0 0 0 0

KANSAS CITY

IP H R ER BB SO

McAllister, L 3Zc 7 8 7 1 1

Moser 2Xc 3 0 0 0 3

Hodges 2 1 1 1 0 2

Heim 1 1 0 0 1 0

Umpires–Home: Grenke. First: Linton. Third: McCaffrey. Time–3:02. A–7,956.