The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks defeated the Gary SouthShore RailCats 5-3 on Friday night at U.S. Steel Yard to sweep the Northern League Semifinal series 3-0.
Fargo will move on to the Northern League Championship Series next week with a chance to defend their league title while the RailCats failed to reach the league finals for the first time in six years under Greg Tagert. The regular season champion RedHawks will take on either the Kansas City T-Bones or Joliet JackHammers in the final round.
The RedHawks jumped in front early when the second batter of the game, Nic Jackson, unloaded on a solo home run over the bleachers in right. Fargo added another run later in the inning when Jeremiah Piepkorn doubled with two outs and Jesse Hoorelbeke singled him in. The RedHawks tacked on another run in the fifth when Eric Campbell’s sacrifice fly drove Zach Penprase in from third.
Matt Mossey did his part to keep the RedHawks in front, allowing just one hit – a Cristian Guerrero second inning double – and retiring 13 straight through the sixth inning. The RailCats got a run in the seventh when Randall Simon ended Mossey’s streak of batters retired with a walk and went to second on a Guerrero base hit. Two batters later, Jay Pecci walked to load the bases, and Mike Rohde with the tying runs on base. Mike Reese grounded into a fielder’s choice get Simon in, but Donnie Smith came out of the Fargo bullpen to strike out pinch-hitter
Fargo’s lead swelled to 4-1 in the top of the eighth, and that run proved key when the RailCats rallied in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Mike Massaro reached on an infield single and Tanner Townsend dropped down a bunt base hit to bring the tying run to home plate. Simon singled one batter later to make it 4-2, and with Guerrero at home plate the RailCats tried a double steal only to see pinch-runner Jeff Beachum thrown out trying to steal second base. Guerrero would eventually reach on a two-base Eric Campbell throwing error to score Townsend but once more the inning would end with the tying run on base.
Willie Glen (0-1) started for the RailCats and lost for the first time in 10 postseason starts in his outstanding four-year career. The veteran right-hander gave up eight hits and four earned runs in 7.1 innings, walking one and striking out seven. Mossey (1-0) pitched into the seventh and earned the win in front of four RedHawks relievers.
Guerrero had two hits for the RailCats who had only five hits in the game – and just one in the first six innings. Mike Coles and Piepkorn had two hits for the RedHawks, who had eight hits of their own.
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