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Eric Peterson, Published September 10 2012

Successful season ends suddenly for RedHawks

FARGO – The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks had a record-setting season, but the conclusion had manager Doug Simunic feeling unfulfilled.

“Abrupt is a good word,” Simunic said Monday. “It’s over. You’re not putting the uniform on the next day. You feel a little empty.”

F-M’s season ended last Friday at Shaw Park in Winnipeg, Man. The Goldeyes earned a 4-1 win against

F-M for a 3-0 best-of-5 series sweep in the first round of the American Association baseball playoffs.

F-M entered the playoffs as the top seed after posting a 65-35 record during the regular season. Those 65 wins tied a league record for wins in a season. The RedHawks had six more wins than the next closest team in the 13-team league.

“All the pieces of the puzzle were there, it just didn’t materialize at the end,” said Simunic, who just completed his 17th season as the team’s manager.

The season was filled with highlights.

Center fielder Nic Jackson batted .309 with 31 doubles, 17 home runs and a league-high 89 RBIs. Jackson was named the player of the year in the American Association.

Designated hitter Ryan Delgado tied for the league lead with 20 home runs. Delgado batted .312 with 27 doubles and 86 RBIs.

Shortstop Zach Penprase batted .311 and led the league in runs (95) and stolen bases (47).

Closer Tom Boleska led the league with 29 saves and was named the league’s relief pitcher of the year.

The RedHawks cruised to a North Division title by finishing 10 games ahead of second-place Winnipeg. F-M had a 12-6 record against the Goldeyes during the regular season.

“I thought we did a lot of good things throughout the year,” Simunic said.

The Goldeyes, however, spoiled what had been a dream season heading in the postseason.

Winnipeg rallied late for road wins in Game 1 and Game 2 against F-M in the first-round playoff series. The Goldeyes finished off the RedHawks at Shaw Park with Friday’s victory to earn the series sweep.

“We didn’t score enough, we didn’t hit enough,” said Simunic, whose team scored a combined six runs in three playoff games. “I thought our starting pitching was good enough, but we were the ones who made the late-inning mistakes pitching. When you do that, you can lose the game.”

The RedHawks had a bounce-back season this summer after posting a 44-56 record in 2011, the team’s first season in the American Association.

F-M had played in the defunct Northern League in its first 15 seasons, winning five league titles.

“Last year, we fell off the radar,” Simunic said. “This year, we got ourselves back on the radar. I hope we can continue to keep staying on the radar. … This was a much better team in all facets of the game than last year.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com