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Eric Peterson, Published August 27 2013

RedHawks overpower Amarillo to clinch division championship

FARGO – The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks slugged their way to a division title Tuesday night at Newman Outdoor Field.

Designated hitter Tim Alberts clubbed a two-run home run in the seventh inning and finished with four RBIs to help fuel the RedHawks’ 11-7 victory against the Amarillo Sox in American Association baseball before 3,217 fans.

The RedHawks (59-35) clinched the North Division championship with the victory, earning a spot in the playoffs.

“It’s always fun to win a championship and pop some champagne,” said RedHawks shortstop Zach Penprase, whose long hair was drenched in bubbly.

In their 18th season, the RedHawks have made the postseason 17 times. They have won a division titles 13 times. F-M has won five league championships.

“We didn’t start off the season great, but we sure played good down the stretch,” said RedHawks manager Doug Simunic, whose team started the season with 2-8 mark.

RedHawks closer Nathan Kilcrease got the game’s final out, getting Amarillo designated hitter Chris Grossman to tap into a fielder’s choice. That set off a celebration, which led to F-M players spraying champagne on each other on the infield.

“We found some people that were good people, and we were able to have some fun,” Simunic said.

The RedHawks put away a stingy Amarillo club with a four-run seventh inning. That rally came after Amarillo cut the F-M lead to 7-6.

RedHawks first baseman Keith Brachold and Alberts sparked the game-changing home half of the seventh. Brachold sparked the rally with a two-run single into right field. Alberts followed with a two-run home run to left field. That gave the RedHawks an 11-6 lead.

“They are a tough team, and they were hitting the ball … but I think Alberts put a little downer on their offense when he hit that home run,” Penprase said.

Simunic likes the consistency his team has had for the past couple months. The RedHawks haven’t lost more than two games in a row since mid-June.

“No long losing streaks,” Simunic said. “That helps.”

RedHawks starter Jake Laber pitched five-plus innings to earn his ninth victory this season. The left-hander allowed five earned runs on eight hits.

The ReHawks have six games to play in the regular season. They play three more home games against Amarillo, and end with a three-game series at Winnipeg.

“It means that Doug is doing a good job bringing in players,” Penprase said of another division crown. “We started the season out weak, but we knew the whole time we had a good team.”

NOTES: Right-hander Alex Caldera (8-5, 4.07 ERA) is set to start today for the RedHawks. Amarillo is expected to counter with right-hander Jason Johnson (5-5, 5.24 ERA). … The RedHawks have a 30-17 home record this season. They are 29-18 on the road.

AMARILLO REDHAWKS

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Valncia cf 6 1 3 2 Pnprse ss 5 1 1 0

Grssmn dh 4 0 1 0 Brqn 3b 5 3 3 1

Martin lf 1 0 0 0 Jackson cf 3 1 0 0

Patton lf-p 4 0 0 0 Rthrfrd 2b 3 2 0 0

Nichols 1b 2 3 1 0 Brchld 1b 4 3 3 3

Weik rf 5 1 3 1 Alberts dh 4 1 3 4

Dlgado 3b 5 1 2 0 Hrnndez lf 4 0 0 0

Serna ss 5 1 3 4 Ssnskie rf 4 0 1 1

Dlgrza 2b 5 0 1 0 Jennings c 4 0 0 0

Ford c 4 0 0 0

Totals 41 7 14 7 Totals 36 11 11 9

Amarillo 010 004 110 –7 14 1

RedHawks 520 000 40x –11 11 1

E–Nichols. DP–Amarillo 1, RedHawks 0. LOB–Amarillo 13, RedHawks 3. 2B–Delgado (7), Serna (23), Bourquin (20), Brachold (20), Alberts (28). HR–Bourquin (16), Alberts (16).

AMARILLO

IP H R ER BB SO

Newby L,6-5 6 8 7 7 2 7

Linares Zc 2 3 3 0 0

Romo Xc 1 1 1 0 2

Patton 1 0 0 0 0 1

REDHAWKS

IP H R ER BB SO

Laber W,9-5 5 8 5 5 3 1

Opsahl Zc 1 0 0 1 0

Miramontes Zc 0 0 0 0 1

Harris 1Xc 4 2 2 1 3

Kilcrease 1Xc 1 0 0 1 3

Umpires–Home: Stegner. First: Linton. Third: Sheets. Time–3:10. A–3,217.


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

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