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Eric Peterson, Published June 10 2012

Winnipeg beats RedHawks to complete series sweep

FARGO – A light drizzle dripped from the gray, overcast sky Sunday as the final out settled into the glove of Winnipeg right fielder Josh Mazzola at Newman Outdoor Field.

The play capped another gloomy afternoon for the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.

Mazzola cracked a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning that proved to be the difference as the Goldeyes held on for a 4-3 victory in American Association baseball before 2,822 fans.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” RedHawks manager Doug Simunic said. “It’s not something you normally see here. We’ve got qualified people, but we don’t have enough people collectively wanting to do it. … I guess we will have to talk to them a little bit today and charge them up a little.”

The RedHawks (9-14) have lost three consecutive games and fell 7 ½ games behind first-place Winnipeg in the North Division. F-M has a 3-10 record at Newman through two homestands.

“We’ve been trying to pick each other up and trying to stay away from letting our heads hang,” RedHawks shortstop Zach Penprase said. “That’s what teammates are for. It’s kind of easy to hang your head.”

Winnipeg completed a three-game sweep of the RedHawks on Sunday, using the same formula that worked in the first two games in the series. Goldeyes starter Matt Rusch pitched eight scoreless innings to earn the victory. On Friday, Winnipeg held F-M scoreless through the first eight innings in a 5-2 victory. On Saturday, the RedHawks scored one run through the first seven innings and Winnipeg powered to a 9-4 triumph.

“I think at first we’re trying to do too much, maybe put a little bit of pressure on ourselves to score early and then by the time we know it it’s already the seventh inning,” said Penprase, who scored a run Sunday. “At some point we’re going to have to have good at-bats early.”

RedHawks starter Tyler Herron had a strong outing Sunday, pitching eight solid innings to keep his team close. Herron scattered eight hits, struck out five and walked one. The right-hander threw 107 pitches, including 74 strikes. Herron allowed single runs in the first and fourth innings.

“He pitched eight innings and was what I would call superb,” Simunic said. “I can’t knock my starting pitching … it’s been as good as anybody in the league.”

Mazzola staked the Goldeyes to a 4-0 lead after cracking a two-run home run in the ninth inning off RedHawks closer Tom Boleska. Those insurance runs proved crucial as the RedHawks rallied in their final at-bat.

F-M first baseman Ryan Delgado lined a two-run double to right field that scored Penprase and Nic Jackson. A Sergio Pedroza RBI single, which played Delgado, cut the Winnipeg lead to 4-3 with two outs. Pedroza would end up stranded at first base as catcher Todd Jennings flew out to Mazzola to end the threat and the game.

“We got close, but close doesn’t count in this,” Simunic said. “This isn’t hand grenades or horseshoes. This is baseball. … It’s about runs. It’s not about my hits or how great I pitched. It’s about runs, outscoring the other team. We obviously haven’t done that.”

NOTES: Right-handed pitcher Alex Caldera (3-1, 1.78 ERA) is scheduled to start today for the RedHawks at St. Paul. First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m. … The RedHawks are a combined 0-6 against Winnipeg and Wichita this season, the teams with the top two records in the league. “You can tell that you’re not up with two of the top teams, Wichita and Winnipeg,” Simunic said. “It looks like they can manhandle you whenever they want to. We’ve got to get past that. We’ve got to be able to compete with them.” … Boleska was ejected from the game in the ninth inning after throwing behind Goldeyes shortstop David Narodowski.

WINNIPEG REDHAWKS

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Kendll, 2b 4 1 3 0 Egglstn lf 3 0 0 0

Robrsn cf 3 0 0 0 Pnprse ss 4 1 0 0

Weber dh 4 0 0 0 Jackson cf 4 1 2 0

De Cstr 3b 4 1 2 0 Dlgdo 1b 4 1 1 2

Alen 1b 4 1 3 0 Pdrza rf 4 0 1 1

Day c 4 0 1 0 Jnngs c 4 0 0 0

Mzzla rf 3 1 1 3 Rdrgz dh 3 0 0 0

Crpntr lf 4 0 0 0 Cota 2b 3 0 1 0

Nrdwski ss 4 0 0 0 Stvll 3b 3 0 1 0

Totals 34 4 10 3 Totals 32 3 6 3

W 100 100 002–4 10 0

FM 000 000 003–3 6 1

2B– Kendall 2 (5), Delgado (7), Cota (6). HR–Mazzola (4). SF–Mazzola (3). SB–Kendall (6). LOB–Winnipeg 5, F-M 3. E–Herron (1).

WINNIPEG

IP H R ER BB SO

Rusch, W, 3-0 8 3 0 0 0 9

Carr 1 3 3 3 1 0

REDHAWKS

IP H R ER BB SO

Herron, L, 0-2 8 8 2 9 1 5

Boleska Xc 2 2 2 0 1

Zenko Zc 0 0 0 0 1

Umpires–Home: Linton. First: Anderson. Third: McCaffrey. Time–2:27. A–2,822.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com