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Published September 10 2010

RedHawks nearing sweep in first-round playoff series

The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks are headed out of town in the driver’s seat.

Second baseman Carlo Cota drove in four runs to help the RedHawks take command of its first-round Northern League playoff series against Gary SouthShore with a 4-3 win before 1,194 fans Thursday at Newman Outdoor Field.

“We’ve got the best road record in the league 31-19,” Fargo-Moorhead manager Doug Simunic said. “We can play on the road as well as we can play here. I’m confident. My team went 10-4 on the last road trip, a 14-game road trip in 12 days.

“I feel comfortable that they are going to do something.”

Fargo-Moorhead took the lead Thursday in odd fashion a two-run sacrifice fly by Cota.

Eric Campbell scored from third, and Jeremiah Piepkorn scored from second on the play to make the score 2-1.

Hustling all the way, Piepkorn beat a relay chain that started with Gary center fielder Mike Massaro about 400 feet from home plate at the center-field wall. Shortstop Jay Pecci cut off the throw in short center field and tossed to first baseman Mike Rohde near the pitcher’s mound.

The lengthy play provided Piepkorn more than enough time to slide safely into home.

Cota added a two-run double in the sixth to make the score 4-1.

“I hit the ball really well, squared it up and thought it had a chance to go out,” Cota said of the sacrifice fly. “The wind was howling a little bit. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a two RBI sacrifice fly. Doug (Simunic) did a good job recognizing they were kind of lobbing the ball around and we took advantage of it.”

The RailCats cut the lead to 4-3 with a pair of runs in the eighth. Casey Hoorelbeke struck out Louis Ott with runners on second and third to maintain the RedHawks lead heading into the ninth.

Pecci advanced to second in the ninth, but was picked off by Hoorelbeke for the second out of the inning.

“We know he has a good move. I guess it just slipped my mind,” Pecci said. “It was a big mistake there.”

Fargo-Moorhead starter Jake Laber pitched out of trouble in the top of the fourth with a runner on third and one out.

Laber struck out Ott and induced a fly to center Pecci to end the RailCats threat.

Rohde’s RBI single put Gary ahead 1-0 in the second.

Laber, a lefty who tied for the Northern League lead with 11 wins during the regular season, was solid for 7Xc innings.

He allowed seven hits and three runs to help the RedHawks take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 series.

Laber had command of all of his pitches throughout the game, striking out five and walking two.

Fargo-Moorhead can close out the RailCats in Game 3 at 7 p.m. tonight at The Steel Yard in Gary, Ind.

Willie Glen, who went 3-0 with a 0.59 ERA in four regular-season starts against the RedHawks, is scheduled to start for Gary. Fargo-Moorhead will counter with Matt Mossey or T.J. Stanton.

“We’re definitely due (against Glen),” Laber said. “That’s the attitude we have. We are going down there for the sweep.”

GARY REDHAWKS

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Klein lf 4 1 1 0 Coles rf 4 0 0 0

Mssaro cf 3 0 0 1 Jckson cf 2 0 0 0

Twnsd 3b 4 1 3 0 Cmpbll 3b 2 2 1 0

Simon dh 4 0 1 1 Ppkrn 1b 3 1 0 0

Bchum pr 0 0 0 0 JHrlbk dh 4 0 1 0

Gurrro rf 3 0 1 0 Cox lf 3 1 0 0

Ott 2b 4 1 1 0 Cota 2b 3 0 1 4

Pecci ss 3 0 1 0 Rick c 3 0 0 0

Rohde 1b 4 0 1 1 Pnprse ss 3 0 1 0

Vladez c 2 0 0 0

Reese ph 1 0 0 0

Parham c 0 0 0 0

Carrra ph 1 0 0 0

Totals 33 3 9 3 Totals 27 4 4 4

Gary 010 000 020–3 9 2

RedHawks 000 202 00x–4 4 3

E–Pecci (1), Rohde (1), C. Hoorelbeke (1), Laber 2 (2). LOB–Gary 6, RedHawks 6. 2B–Townsend 2 (2), Ott (1), Cota (1). 3B–Klein (1).

GARY

IP H R ER BB SO

Nicholson L 5Xc 4 4 2 3 5

Chavez 1Xc 0 0 0 2 2

Hauer Zc 0 0 0 0 0

Cook Zc 0 0 0 0 1

REDHAWKS

IP H R ER BB SO

Laber W 7Xc 7 3 3 2 5

Patton 0 1 0 0 0 0

C. Hrlbke S 1Zc 1 0 0 0 1

Umpires–Home: Branin. First: McCaffrey. Second: Baker. Third: Linton. Time–3:01. A–1,194.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562.

Hotzler’s blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com