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Eric Peterson, Published July 25 2013

Buddy's blast gives RedHawks 1,000 franchise wins

FARGO – Buddy Sosnoskie took a face full of shaving cream from a teammate during the postgame interview Thursday that caused his eyes to sting.

Moments earlier, Sosnoskie stung the baseball.

Sosnoskie cracked a two-run, walk-off home run over the wall in right field at Newman Outdoor Field. That blast gave the RedHawks a 5-3 victory against the St. Paul Saints in American Association baseball before a sellout crowd of 4,509 fans.

The dramatic ending seemed fitting for a victory that was the 1,000th in franchise history.

“This means I’m old, man,” said RedHawks manager Doug Simunic, who has been the team manager for all 18 of its seasons. “We’ve always bought into winning. We’ve always bought into this place (Newman). It’s a good place to play. It’s a great crowd to play in front of.”

The RedHawks became the fourth franchise in modern independent history (1993-present) to reach 1,000 wins. The Somerset Patriots and Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League and the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the American Association are the other three franchises to reach the milestone. The RedHawks (1,000-631 franchise record) have the highest winning percentage (.613) in that group.

“A thousand wins shows that year-in, year-out, this in the best franchise in (independent) ball,” said Sosnoskie, who was 0-for-3 heading into his final at-bat Thursday.

RedHawks shortstop Zach Penprase has been part of 325 of those franchise victories.

“I’ve been part of Doug’s 1,000th win and part of the franchise’s,” said Penprase, who is in his sixth season with the RedHawks. “It’s fun to win 1,000 games no matter where you are.”

Simunic earned his 1,000th managerial victory in June 2011.

The RedHawks trailed 3-2 heading into their final at-bat Thursday. Second baseman C.J. Retherford started the rally, reaching base on an error to lead off the inning. Retherford later scored on a Mitch Einertson RBI groundout, which tied the score at 3-3.

That set the scene for Sosnoskie, who came to the plate with two outs and Tim Alberts on third base.

Sosnoskie was down to his final strike when he lined a Mark Hamburger fastball over the wall in right field. Sosnoskie fouled off a pair of two-strike offerings before hitting his dramatic two-run long ball.

“I didn’t really swing it well all day until that last one,” said Sosnoskie. “I just happened to get a hold of it.”

Sosnoskie was mobbed by his teammates as he reached home plate. He flipped his batting helmet in the air just before he touched home.

“We were pretty much down the whole day and it was amazing,” Penprase of the scene around home plate.

Hamburger (4-4) handcuffed the RedHawks for most of the afternoon. F-M scored two runs in the first inning after Retherford smacked a two-run home run. The RedHawks stayed stuck on that number until the ninth inning. All three runs F-M scored in the final frame were unearned.

“He has really good stuff,” Sosnoskie said of Hamburger. “You really don’t see 93, 94 (miles per hour) out of starters in this league.”