The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks bats had been seemingly silent all game long, but came alive in the ninth inning Wednesday afternoon as they downed the Wichita Wingnuts, 8-5. The RedHawks scored six-runs in ninth, four of which were unearned as Fargo-Moorhead took the three-game series.
As they had on Tuesday, the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks opened the game with a run in the top of the first. Brennan Metzger hit a sharp single to left with one down. Two batters later, Charlie Valerio singled up the middle, moving Metzger to second. Leo Pina followed with a single up the middle. Nick Rotola threw home, but the throw was too late for the speedy Metzger. However, Wichita catcher Logan Trowbridge alertly threw behind Pina who had rounded too far from first, picking him off to end the inning.
The Wichita Wingnuts responded with three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Logan Watkins grounded the first pitch he saw down to first, but pitcher Sebastian Kessay did not get over in time and Watkins was safe. Zach Nehrir followed by beating out a bunt for a base hit before Abel Nieves reached on a walk. Two batters later, Trowbridge drew a walk to drive home Watkins to tie the score. A sacrifice fly by Ryne Willard brought in Nehrir to give Wichita the lead and Hunter Clanin’s hard single to right plated Nieves to make it 3-1.
In the fifth, the RedHawks cut the deficit to a run. Keury De La Cruz led off the inning with a base hit to right and Yhoxian Medina followed with a ball hit down the line in left that barely landed fair. De La Cruz came all the way around to score to make it a 3-2 game. Medina would be left stranded however.
As they had in the first, the Wichita Wingnuts responded right away in the bottom half of the inning. Trowbridge led off with a single but was picked off first before Willard singled. Leo Vargas followed with a walk and that would be it for Kessay. Travis Ballew came on and struck out Clanin, but Rotola singled to drive home Willard, and Vargas came home on a single by Watkins. That gave Wichita a 5-2 lead.
In the ninth, Fargo-Moorhead would suddenly make this an exciting game. Daniel Tillman came on looking for his 13th save. He gave up a hard single to Pina to start the inning. De La Cruz then took the next pitch he saw for his sixth homer of the year to cut the deficit back to one. Two batters later, Chris Jacobs delivered a pinch-hit single and he moved to second when the Wingnuts third baseman could not cleanly field a ball hit by Steve Zimmerman. With two down, Metzger popped a ball up into shallow right field. Watkins called everyone off as he attempted to shield his eyes from the bright sun. He lost it at the last moment as it dropped in for a base hit to tie the game. Devan Ahart followed with a base hit to right that scored Zimmerman to give the RedHawks the lead. That brought Charlie Valerio to the plate, who laced a double into the gap in left-center, bringing both runners around to score and suddenly the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks had a three run lead.
In the ninth, Geoff Broussard came on looking to close it out. He gave up a one out single before retiring the final two batters of the game for his first save.
Keury De La Cruz went 2-4 with 2-runs and 2-RBI. Leo Pina had 3-hits, scored a run and drove in a run. Reese Gregory (3-2) earned the victory with three innings of scoreless relief. Logan Watkins was 4-5 with a run and an RBI for Wichita.
The Wichita Wingnuts will welcome the Texas AirHogs on Thursday to begin a four-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
Featured Image by Ed Bailey
By Robert Pannier