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Eric Peterson, Published August 28 2012

Laredo knocks off RedHawks at Newman Outdoor Field

FARGO – While the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks have already secured a postseason spot, shortstop Zach Penprase figures they still have American Association baseball history for motivation.

The RedHawks have a chance to reach the league record for wins in the regular season, even with Tuesday’s 6-4 loss against the Laredo Lemurs at Newman Outdoor Field before 3,626 fans.

“It’s not hard to keep our focus, especially when a lot of guys know we are this close to a league record for wins,” said Penprase, who went 1-for-4 with an RBI against Laredo. “Everybody has that in the back of their mind. Everybody wants to be part of a record. It’s not going to be hard for us to keep that winning mentality.”

Lincoln holds the American Association record for wins in a season with 65 in 2006. The RedHawks (61-33) are four games away from equaling that mark with six games remaining in the regular season. F-M has already clinched the North Division championship.

“We’ve just got to make sure that people don’t get hurt to some extreme where they can’t play in the first round of the playoffs,” RedHawks manager Doug Simunic said. “There’s a fine line there, the edge of winning, the edge of playing consistent. You’re only a third of the way there because you won a season.”

Winning a first-round playoff series and earning the league championship are the other two-thirds of that pie.

Laredo took control Tuesday night with a four-run fourth inning. Lemurs shortstop Jimmy Mojica capped the rally with a sacrifice fly that staked his team to a 5-2 lead. That sacrifice also proved to be the game-winning RBI.

Laredo (51-43) is the hottest team in the American Association, winning 11 consecutive games. The Lemurs have a 2½ game lead over Grand Prairie for first place in the South Division.

Penprase said it’s important the RedHawks maintain their winning edge through the final week of the regular season. F-M is scheduled to host opening-round playoff games on Sept. 5 and Sept. 6, the first two games in a best-of-5 series.

“You’ve got to get some kind of momentum going into the playoffs,” Penprase said. “The challenge we have now is to not take anything too lightly to the point where we aren’t on a roll going into the playoffs.”

Simunic said he plans to add a sixth starter into the starting rotation in the final week of the regular season to help rest his pitching staff for the postseason.

“We don’t really want to tax our pitching to the degree of making a guy stay out there for a 120 pitches or so; try to keep the limit down to a certain size,” Simunic said.

The RedHawks have responded with a 60-plus win season this summer after posting a 44-56 record in 2011. That was the only time the franchise, which started play in 1996, finished the season with losing record.

“It’s good because we missed it last year and we missed it by a long way,” said Simunic, who has guided F-M to the playoffs in 15 of his 17 seasons. “Everybody had a pretty good year and we were able to recapture what we had around here.”

NOTES: Right-hander Aaron Shafer (9-5, 5.26 ERA) is scheduled to pitch today for the RedHawks. Laredo is expected to counter with left-hander Matt Way (10-6, 3.64 ERA). … Zach Penprase donated close to $500 to the Sanford Children’s Hospital with proceeds from a silent auction of his framed baseball-themed photos. “I wasn’t going to go around them and sell them individually,” Penprase said. “I kind of wanted to get rid of them, but at the same time do something good with them.” … F-M second baseman Max Casper, a former North Dakota State standout, had two RBIs on Tuesday. Those were his first two RBIs with the RedHawks.

Laredo RedHawks

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Dglas cf 4 0 2 1 Pnprs ss 4 1 1 1

Mojica ss 4 0 1 2 Sosnske lf 4 0 0 0

Allen lf 5 0 0 0 Jackson cf 4 0 0 0

Incvgla lf 0 0 0 0 Cmpbll 3b 4 0 0 0

Nchls dh 3 1 0 0 Gaston rf 1 0 1 1

Brito 1b 3 1 0 0 Stovall rf 3 1 1 0

Mrqez 3b 4 1 2 0 Delgdo dh 3 1 0 0

Petersn c 3 1 0 1 Rdrgz 1b 4 1 2 0

Pearsn rf 4 1 3 1 Jenings c 4 0 0 0

Scelfo 2b 3 1 1 1 Casper 2b 2 0 1 2

Totals 33 6 9 6 Totals 33 4 6 4

Laredo 010 401 000

RedHawks 110 002 000

E–Brito (5), Campbell (13). 2B–Marquez (9), Penprase (15). SB–Penprase (44), Stovall (24). CS–Pearson (2). LOB–FM, 9. L, 6.

Laredo

IP H R ER BB SO

Giammnco, L 5 4 4 4 3 3

Roe, C 1 2 0 0 0 2

Walker, E 2 0 0 0 0 3

Benacka, M 1 0 0 0 2 2

RedHawks

IP H R ER BB SO

Laber, J 5Zc 8 6 5 5 2

Opsahl 3Xc 1 0 0 0 3

Umpires–Home: Solsaa. First: Thigpen. Second: Hicks. Time–2:46. A–3,636.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com