Eric Peterson, Published September 04 2013
RedHawks edge Gary SouthShore behind Piepkorn's heroics
The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks right fielder cracked an RBI single in the eighth inning that snapped a scoreless tie. That game-winning hit helped spark the RedHawks to a 2-0 victory against Gary SouthShore in the American Association playoff semifinals before 2,107 fans.
The RedHawks took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-5 series.
“I was just trying to stay composed,” said Piepkorn, who went 1-for-4. “I wasn’t trying to do too much with the ball.”
Piepkorn played in 15 games with the RedHawks during the regular season, returning to professional baseball for the first time since 2010. He played his first game with F-M at the end of July, having only played amateur baseball and slowpitch softball earlier in the summer.
Counting Wednesday, Piepkorn, 32, has three-game winning hits since his comeback. The two he had during the regular season were walk-off game-winners.
“The guy is just clutch,” RedHawks starting pitcher Taylor Stanton said of Piepkorn. “He doesn’t put too much pressure on himself.”
RedHawks designated hitter Tim Alberts followed Piepkorn’s RBI hit with a towering sacrifice fly that capped a two-run eighth inning. That was the lone sliver of offense in a game dominated by pitching.
Gary left-handed starter Alain Quijano and Stanton matched each other pitch-for-pitch for most of the evening. Quijano pitched into the eighth inning before he ran into trouble.
“You can’t ask for more from your starting pitchers than Quijano gave us and Stanton gave them,” RailCats manager Greg Tagert said. “It’s easy to say now, but that old cliché, ‘You want to win one on the road.’ We need to win one tomorrow.”
Ronnie Bourquin started the F-M rally in the eighth with a lead-off single to right field. C.J. Retherford later grounded a single into center field that moved Bourquin to second base with one out. Retherford was the final batter Quijano faced. That set the stage for Piepkorn, who had to face Gary right-handed reliever Kyle Lindquist.
Piepkorn delivered, punching an opposite-field single into right field. That scored Bourquin from second base and moved Retherford to third.
“It actually wasn’t a very good pitch to swing at,” Piepkorn said. “I lucked out and got the barrel on it. … Maybe I just try to buckle down a little bit more in those situations. Whatever it is, as long as we win, I don’t care how it happens.”
Gary’s best scoring chance came in the seventh inning. The RailCats had runners on first and third base with one out after a Zac Mitchell single to left field. However, Stanton struck out Danny Pulfer looking for the second out. Pulfer had a 10-pitch at-bat and fouled off seven pitches in a row at one point. That was the last batter Stanton faced.
RedHawks lefty reliever Joe Harris then got Gary lead-off hitter Adam Klein to tap out to second base for the final out in the top of the seventh, keeping the game scoreless.
“We had our chance with the first-and-third situation, couldn’t get the one run across,” Tagert said. “Pulfer had a tremendous at-bat.”
Stanton felt keeping Gary off the scoreboard in the seventh shifted the momentum in F-M’s favor.
“That was huge,” said Stanton, who got a no decision despite allowing no runs in 6Xc innings. “Once that happened, you could just feel we were going to win that game.”
RedHawks left-hander Joe Harris pitched a scoreless 2Zc innings of scoreless relief to earn the victory. Harris struck out the side in the eighth inning.
“We know we’re in for a fight,” RedHawks manager Doug Simunic said. “We just got to keep fighting.”
NOTES: Right-hander Alex Caldera (8-6, 4.31 ERA) is set to pitch today for the RedHawks. Gary SouthShore is expected to counter with right-hander Stephen Hisock (4-2, 3.26 ERA). … The RedHawks have a 12-5 postseason record against the RailCats.
ab r h bi ab r h bi
Klein lf 4 0 0 0 Pnprse ss 4 0 1 0
Mssaro rf 4 0 1 0 Borquin 3b 4 1 1 0
Gurrro dh 4 0 1 0 Jckson cf 4 0 1 0
Fronk 1b 3 0 1 0 Rtherfrd 2b 3 1 1 0
Maddox c 3 0 1 0 Piepkrn rf 4 0 1 1
Bbineu ph 1 0 0 0 Alberts dh 3 0 0 1
Kolb 3b 3 0 0 0 Brchold 1b 3 0 0 0
Martinz cf 3 0 1 0 Hrnndez lf 3 0 2 0
Mitchell ss 4 0 1 0 Jennings c 2 0 0 0
Pulfer 2b 3 0 0 0
Totals 32 0 6 0 Totals 30 2 7 2
G 000 000 000 –0 6 0
FM 000 000 02x –2 7 0
LOB–Gary 8, RedHawks 8. 2B–Guerrero (1), Hernandez (1). SB–Penprase (1).
IP H R ER BB SO
Quijano L 7Zc 6 2 2 3 5
Lindquist Xc 1 0 0 0 0
IP H R ER BB SO
Stanton 6Xc 5 0 0 2 3
Harris W 2Zc 1 0 0 0 4
Umpires–Home: Linton. First: Hicks. Third: McLaughlin. Time–2:15. A–2,107.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.
Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com