FARGO, ND – The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks entered the ninth inning tied for the second time in three games, and for the second time in three games watched the Grand Prairie AirHogs grab a commanding lead in the ninth. The RedHawks fell 7-4 before a sellout crowd of 5,031 fans at Newman Outdoor Field on Friday night.
Grand Prairie jumped on the board first when they got to RedHawks starter Ty Kelley in the top half of the second. Willie Cabrera led off the inning with an infield single that bounced off of Kelley's glove. Kelley tried to make the acrobatic throw on the run but his throw ran errant allowing Cabrera to advance to second. Victor Diaz proceeded to single up the middle moving Cabrera over to third. Two batters later Robi Estrada sent a dribbler to second allowing Cabrera to score, but then a dropped ball at first allowed Diaz to wheel from second on home making it 2-0.
Fargo-Moorhead would answer in the home half. Ryan Pineda walked on four pitches from 'Hogs' starter Zach Dando and would advance to second after Taylor Oldham took a pitch on the elbow. Rookie Connor Andrus stepped to the dish and delivered with a single to right plating Pineda cutting the deficit to 2-1 after two innings.
The two teams would then exchange runs in the fifth. Jordy Hart led off with a single to left and would later be driven in on a Josh Eatherly groundout to short. In the home half of the inning it was Andrus who reached on a single and would be driven in two batters later by Zach Penprase making it 3-2 in favor of Grand Prairie after five innings of play.
Fargo-Moorhead would tie the game in the sixth as the Pineda-Andrus connection practically replayed itself. Pineda reached on a fielder's choice and would be advanced to second by Oldham. Two batters later Andrus lined a single to the exact same spot in center allowing Pineda to wheel home from second tying the game 4-4.
Kelley entered into the seventh inning and retired the first two batters he faced, but after a walk to Robi Estrada Doug Simunic opted to go the bullpen with right-hander Tyler Thompson. Kelley walked away with the no-decision, but produced another quality start, going 6.2 innings while allowing three runs (one earned) on seven hits with three walks and eight strikeouts. It was his third quality start in his last four, and it continued the good string of quality outings for RedHawks starters, which is now at 15 in 19 games.
Thompson remained on for the eighth and found trouble. Zane Chavez singled off him and advanced to second on a wild pitch with Willie Cabrera at the plate. Cabrera then belted a double to the wall in right-center allowing Chavez to score easily making it 5-4. Thompson would strike out Michael Pair and Jordy Hart back-to-back to end the inning.
Evan Englebrook came on for the ninth looking to keep the AirHogs at bay heading to the bottom of the ninth. Leadoff man Ronnie Richardson led off the frame with a towering double that knocked off the wall in right followed by a Ridge Hoopi-Haslam RBI triple to right that ricocheted off the wall making for a difficult play for Joe Dunigan. Chavez would follow with a chopper to second baseman Ryan Pineda that allowed Hoopi-Haslam to score making it 7-4 Grand Prairie.
Logan Norris came on for the save in the bottom of the ninth. The RedHawks appeared to have a rally going as Zach Penprase and Chad Mozingo led off with singles to right. In a double steal attempt, Penprase reached safely but Mozingo was caught trying to swipe second for the first out. Norris would then strike out Joe Bonfe and force Dunigan to ground out to first ending the game.
Englebrook (0-1) takes the loss while Collin Allen (1-1) earns the win for the AirHogs in relief. Norris' shutdown frame in the bottom of the ninth also earned him his third save of the season.
Chad Mozingo continued his torrid ways at the plate and had a monster game for the RedHawks. He went 4-for-5 with a run scored, raising his average to .335 on the season. Mozingo feasted off of AirHogs pitching throughout the series, going 9-for-12 with three runs scored and an RBI in the three games vs. Grand Prairie.
With the loss, Fargo-Moorhead drops to 23-41 and loses two of three against the AirHogs. Grand Prairie improves to 23-42 and continues their road trip by traveling to Sioux City while the RedHawks will welcome the league leading St. Paul Saints to town for the rare Saturday-Monday series. Fargo-Moorhead will send Taylor Stanton to the hill while the Saints will counter with Kramer Sneed in game one tomorrow night. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. with the gates opening at 5. All games can be heard on 740 AM The Fan with Jack Michaels and Scott Miller.