The battle for second place in the North Division began Monday night as the St. Paul Saints and Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks began a four-game series with the two teams separated by just a half game. St. Paul grabbed an early lead, but the RedHawks battled back behind three RBI by Tim Colwell and a solid outing by Will Solomon to earn the 9-7 victory.
The St. Paul Saints took a big lead in the top of the first. With one down, Kyle Barrett singled up the middle and he moved to second when Burt Reynolds walked. Brady Shoemaker followed with a double that brought home Barret to give the Saints the lead. Zach Walters then lined a single into left that score Reynolds and Shoemaker came home on a ground out by Dante Bichette, Jr. to extend the St. Paul lead to three. With Walters at second and two down, Nathaniel Maggio delivered a clutch two-out single that brought home the runner to extend the lead to four.
The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks responded with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. Tim Colwell walked to start the frame and Brennan Metzger followed with a double into right field. Colwell scored when the Saints right fielder misplayed the ball as Metzger rolled into third. He scored on a ground out by Devan Ahart to cut the Saints lead to two.
An inning later, the St. Paul defense let down starter Eddie Medina. Charlie Valerio grounded the first pitch he saw to first, which rolled through the first baseman’s legs for an error. Maikol Gonzalez walked and both runners moved up on a sacrifice. That brought Yhoxian Medina to the plate, who grounded a ball to the shortstop that went off his glove for an error. Valerio scored with Gonzalez moving to third. A sacrifice fly by Colwell brought in Gonzalez to tie the game at four.
In the third, the RedHawks took the lead. Ahart singled to start the inning and moved to second on a wild pitch. He scored on a double by Keury De La Cruz to put Fargo-Moorhead up 5-4.
Will Solomon had given up the four first inning runs, but he settled down from there, keeping the Saints off the scoreboard over the next five frames. In the seventh he found himself in a little trouble. The lefty gave up a single to Max Murphy to start the inning and a walk to Reynolds to put two on with just one out. That brought a call to the bullpen for Travis Ballew who got Brady Shoemaker to ground into a double-play to end the inning.
Solomon (8-4) went 6.1-innings. He allowed 8-hits, 3-walks and 4-runs. The lefty struck out 2.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks extended their lead. Medina and Colwell started the inning with back-to-back singles. A ground out moved both into scoring position and that would be it for Eddie Medina. Ken Frosch came on and gave up a sacrifice fly that scored Medina to make it 6-4 RedHawks.
In the top of the eighth, St. Paul would get that run right back. Zach Walters led off the inning with a drive over the wall in right field for his eighth homer of the year. Making it 6-5.
The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks would extend their lead in the bottom of the inning. Frosch retired the first two batters of the inning, but Gonzalez hit a 2-2 pitch for his fifth homer of the year. That was the first run to score against Frosch all season, breaking his run of 36 appearances without being scored upon. Derrick Fox singled and that would be it for the lefty.
Beck Wheeler came on and Medina greeted him with a single. Colwell then laced a ball down into the corner in right that he legged out for a triple. Both runners scored to extend the lead to four.
The Saints were down but not out. In the ninth, they would put together a rally. Anthony Phillips started the inning with a single. Murphy then ripped a ball to deep center that fell for a double. Phillips was waved home but was thrown out on a great relay. Barrett followed with his third homer of the year and the deficit was just two. However, Benji Waite came on and was able to retire the side without any further damage for his first save of the season as Fargo-Moorhead held on for the 9-7 victory.
Tim Colwell led the RedHawks offense, going 2-3 with a run and 3-RBI. Yhoxian Medina was 2-4 with 2-runs and an RBI. Kyle Barrett led St. Paul, going 2-4 with 2-runs, a homer and 2-RBI.
These same two teams will meet again tomorrow. First pitch is scheduled for 7:02.
By Robert Pannier