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Jayson Jenks / Special to The Forum, Published September 15 2010

RedHawks offense stakes F-M to 1-0 series lead in Northern League finals

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Entering the playoffs, Fargo-Moorhead manager Doug Simunic and his players harped on the need for the pitching staff to simply limit the opponent’s offense.

If the pitchers could do that, Simunic and his team thought, the RedHawks offense would produce plenty of runs for the win. And in the first game of the Northern League championship on Tuesday night, FM rode that formula to a gritty 8-7 win in front of 902 fans at Kansas City.

When the offense opened the game with a quick scoring burst, the pitching staff held. When the pitching staff wobbled as the game progressed, the offense tacked on needed runs. So it went for a FM team that finished the regular season in first and cruised through the playoff’s first round.

“Kansas City’s the kind of team you can’t count out ever,” FM first baseman Jesse Hoorelbeke said. “So we know as hitters that we have to keep putting runs up because at any time they can get to one of our pitchers.

“For us, in every inning we had to keep tacking on another run. We had to keep staying ahead, and we did that. We were able to hold them off in the end.”

Things certainly tightened late.

After FM reliever Casey Hoorelbeke gave up a walk and a single in the eighth inning, Kansas City’s Dwayne White singled up the middle, making the score 8-6. And then an error proved costly.

With one out and runners on first and third, Rico Washington hit a routine ground ball to Jesse Hoorelbeke, who fired to second in hopes of turning a double play. But the throw bounced into the outfield, allowing another run to score and trimming FM’s lead to 8-7.

“That was just a poor decision first,” Jesse Hoorelbeke said, “and then it was poor execution of an easy play.”

FM held on largely because of an early scoring outburst, and that was certainly an important part of the RedHawks’ victory. But FM also held on in the game’s middle innings, when Kansas City’s offense awakened.

Scott Fogelson picked up the win and Donnie Smith closed out the game by pitching 1Xc scoreless innings for the save.

“We were opportunistic quite a bit where we were able to put some runs up on them in multiple innings,” FM manager Doug Simunic said. “And they kept cutting them in half.”

The defense of FM’s 2009 Northern League title started in the same place, and on the same field, where the RedHawks clinched their 2010 first-place finish in the regular season.

The two teams met in Kansas City just nine days ago in the final game of a season-ending series. With the Northern League’s top seed on the line, the RedHawks took three of four games from the T-Bones, putting a stamp on their first-place finish.

And a sweep against Gary SouthShore in the first round of the playoffs kept FM’s momentum rolling.

Against the T-Bones on Tuesday, the RedHawks’ offense erupted early – but not without the help of some erratic pitching.

Kansas City starting pitcher Mike Rocco walked two in the first inning, and the RedHawks capitalized with three singles that totaled three runs. Jesse Hoorelbeke ripped a single off the top of the left field wall, driving in two. Jay Cox followed two batters later with an RBI single.

Nic Jackson hit a solo home run in the second inning to extend FM’s lead to 4-0.

“That obviously meant a lot toward the end of the game,” Jackson said.


ab r h bi ab r h bi

Coles rf 5 1 2 1 Simon cf 4 0 1 1

Jcksn cf 4 2 1 1 Blckwd 2b 5 0 0 0

Cmpbll 3b 4 1 0 0 Mrtnz 1b 4 2 2 0

Zmmrn lf 0 0 0 0 Mojica pr 0 0 0 0

Hrlbke 1b 3 2 2 2 Sadler rf 4 3 2 2

Ppkrn lf 5 1 1 0 Fasno dh 3 1 1 1

Cox dh 4 0 1 1 White lf 4 0 1 1

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

Rick c 4 0 0 0 Joynt 3b 4 1 0 0

Pnprse ss 4 1 1 0 Nieblas c 4 0 1 0

Totals 33 8 8 5 Totals 35 7 9 3

RedHawks 310 120 100–8 9 1

Kansas City 001 202 020–7 9 2

E–Hoorelbeke (1), Moser (1), Rocco (2). 2B–Hoorelbeke (1), Martinez (1), Fasano (1), Washingston (1). HR– Jackson (2), Sadler (3). LOB–Redhawks 6, Kansas 6.



Fogelson, W, 6 6 5 5 3 6

Hoorelbeke 1 1 2 2 2 0

Patton Zc 1 0 0 0 0

Smith 1Xc 1 0 0 0 2



Rocco, L, 3Zc 6 5 4 3 6

Moser 1Xc 1 2 1 1 2

Knippschild 3 2 1 1 0 3

Perisho 1 0 0 0 0 2

Umpires–Home: Hank Himmanen. First: Kurt Branin. Third: Neil Turner. Time–3:33. A–902.