RedHawks open series with win against St. Paul
FARGO—The race for the American Association baseball wild card is tightening, and virtually a dead heat between three teams heading into the home stretch.
The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks are in that group after an 11-3 victory against the St. Paul Saints on Friday, Aug. 25, at Newman Outdoor Field before 4,389 fans.
"We know what's ahead of us, but we're only focusing on right now," RedHawks interim manager Michael Schlact said. "That's all you can do."
Gary SouthShore (51-39) and Kansas City (51-39) are tied for the wild card lead with the RedHawks (50-39) a half game behind. All three are tied in the loss column.
F-M, which has won three consecutive games, has 11 games remaining in the regular season. The RedHawks are four games behind Winnipeg for first place in the North Division. The three division winners and the wild card make the playoffs.
"We're trying to play hard every day and see what happens," said RedHawks shortstop Yhoxian Medina.
Medina went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and also scored two runs against the Saints. He reached base in his first four at-bats to fuel the F-M offense early. RedHawks third baseman Josh Mazzola helped drive the offense in the middle and late innings. Mazzola finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs, including a two-run home run.
"That's why we have Mazzola," Schlact said of his cleanup hitter. "That's why he's our 4-hole guy."
RedHawks starter Tyler Herron pitched seven strong innings to earn the victory. The right-hander held the Saints scoreless through five innings. Herron (8-3) scattered eight hits, struck out nine batters and walked two.
"Tyler set the tone for us and it was big in he kept them off balance," Schlact said. "That is a very good lineup over there. ... It gave everybody confidence."
The RedHawks built a three-run lead in the second inning and never trailed. Keury De La Cruz sparked the rally with a leadoff triple and later scored on a Trever Adams sacrifice fly. Medina capped the surge with a two-run double to left field that gave the RedHawks a 3-0 edge.
"I was looking for my pitch," Medina said. "I didn't miss my pitch today."
F-M extended that lead in the fifth inning after Mazzola cracked a two-run home run over the left-field wall. That gave the RedHawks a 5-0 lead.
The RedHawks put the game away, scoring five runs in the seventh. Mazzola sparked that rally with two-run double into left field. F-M built a 10-2 lead after two runs scored on a St. Paul throwing error, capping the seventh-inning surge.
RedHawks designated hitter Chris Grayson added a solo home run in the eighth inning to make it an 11-2 lead.
"The biggest thing is to control what we can control," Schlact said. "We try to find a way one game at a time here, and control what we can and win as many games as we can."