Nic Jackson went 3-for-4 and Ruben Salazar drove in three runs as the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks won the 2009 Northern League Championship with a 7-3 win over the Gary SouthShore RailCats Saturday night in front of 2,042 fans at U. S. Steel Yard.
Jackson reached base four times Saturday and was in the middle of a game-changing two run fifth inning that gave the RedHawks a 4-2 lead. Fargo scored twice in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to pull away and hand the RailCats their second consecutive four-game loss in the league finals. After losing game one, the RedHawks went on to win the next three contests including back-to-back games at The Steel Yard the last two nights.
The RailCats opened the scoring Saturday in the bottom of the third inning when Eric McNamee doubled with two outs to score Rob Marconi, who had doubled earlier in the inning. But Fargo would answer with two in the top of the fourth on a Salazar single and wild pitch and never trail again.
In the bottom of the fourth, the RailCats looked poised for a big inning when Steve Haake and Cristian Guerrero singled off starter Jeff Icenogle, and Brett Wallace walked to load the bases. Icenogle, however, would come back to get Mike Rohde to pop out and Nick Fellman (2-0) came on to get the next two hitters with Jordan Czarniecki’s fielder’s choice groundout scoring the RailCats only run of the inning.
With the score now tied, Kole Zimmerman started the fifth by drawing a walk against Chris Jones (0-1), and two batters later Jones would walk Zach Penprase to put runners at first and second with one out. Jones was lifted for Kyle Heyne who got a huge out on Jeremiah Piepkorn, forcing him to pop up the first pitch he saw. Jackson chopped an infield single just over Heyne’s head to load the bases with two out, however, and Heyne then walked the next two hitters – Mike Coles and Salazar – to force in the game-winning runs.
The RailCats got within 6-3 on a Brett Wallace RBI single in the eighth but Fargo added a run in the ninth and Tim Lavigne got the final six outs for his third postseason save.
Jeremy Hauer worked three innings of scoreless relief for the RedHawks and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Championship Series for his fine work over three games. Hauer worked in three of the four games and pitched a total of 8.0 innings, allowing just two earned runs – on a McNamee homer Wednesday – and striking out seven. The professional rookie pitched a whopping 14.0 innings in six postseason appearances and had a 1.29 ERA.
The RailCats were out-hit 9-8 in Saturday’s game and 45-26 in the series. McNamee and Haake each had two hits to pace the RailCats offensively. All nine RedHawks hits were singles, but the visitors also took advantage of nine RailCats walks and stole six bases in the victory.
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