Pitching, Defense Give RedHawks Opening Victory, 3-2
It had been 15 years since the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks and St. Paul Saints had faced one another in the playoffs, but the two teams showed what playoff baseball is all about, as the RedHawks pulled out a tension filled 3-2 victory. Three early runs were all the offense that Fargo-Moorhead starter Ryan Williams needed to earn the victory. Michael Lang had a perfect night for the Saints.
The St. Paul Saints would get off to a great start. After Dan Motl flew out to begin the contest, Michael Lang ripped a ball into the gap and raced hard out of the box, sliding into second with a double. Two batters later, John Silvano singled into center. Lang beat the throw home and it was 1-0 St. Paul.
The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks trailed, but would respond in the bottom half of the inning. Brennan Metzger walked and moved to second on a ground out. Next up was Ahart, who fought of a great pitch, blooping it into left field. That scored Metzger with Ahart taking second when the throw to the plate was off the mark. He moved to third on a wild pitch and scored when Chris Jacobs singled to make it 2-1.
The Saints looked to tie the score in the top of the third, but Tim Colwell made the defensive play of the game. After Motl singled to start the inning, Lang followed with a base hit to put two on with no one out. Ryan Williams looked like he could be in some trouble, but that changed quickly when Brady Shoemaker hit a fly ball to right. Colwell made the catch about 20 feet from the wall, then threw a rocket to third to nail Motl who was attempting to tag up.
The defensive gem had the RedHawks fired up and they responded with a run in the bottom of the inning. Metzger led off with a single and moved to second when Ahart singled two batters later. Jacobs then dropped a shallow fly ball for a base hit to load the bases before Metzger came home on a sacrifice fly by Correlle Prime to make it 3-1.
Williams had struggled in the first, but he responded with three solid innings to keep his team on top. However, the Saints would finally get to the Fargo-Moorhead starter in the top of the fifth. Blake Schmit singled to start the inning and moved to second when Lang responded with his third hit of the night. Brady Shoemaker then grounded a ball down to third, but the throw to first was off the mark, loading the bases. Silviano then hit into a fielder’s choice, bringing home Schmit to cut the deficit to one. Williams remained cool though, not allowing the Saints to capitalize with runners at the corners by getting Jeremy Martinez to fly out to end the threat.
Williams (1-0) came out after six. He allowed seven hits and a walk while striking out four.
Brent Jones came on and it looked like St. Paul was going to take advantage of Williams’ departure. Schmit was hit by a pitch to begin the inning and Lang drew a walk, reaching base for the fourth time in the contest. That brought Shoemaker to the plate, who lined a ball hard, but right at the second baseman. Carlos Garcia threw to the shortstop to complete the double-play as St. Paul came away empty handed.
The St. Paul Saints would not threaten again. Jones retired the side in order in the eighth. Geoff Broussard came on in the ninth. He walked the leadoff batter, but retired the next three batters in order, striking out two to get the save.
Devan Ahart went 2-3 with a run scored and an RBI for the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks. Brennan Metzger had a hit, a walk and scored two runs. Michael Lang finished 3-3 with a run and a walk for St. Paul. John Silviano drove in both Saints runs.
Game 2 will be tomorrow night in Fargo-Moorhead. The RedHawks will send RHP Michael Tamburino (7-6, 3.11) against Landon Beck (5-2, 3.83). First pitch is scheduled for 7:02.
By Robert Pannier
Featured Image by Capture Twin Cities