LITTLE FALLS, NJ – The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning, but watched their lead become a deficit as the game wore on and dropped the series finale 10-2 before a crowd of 1,738 fans at Yogi Berra Stadium on Wednesday morning.
It was a quick turn around for both teams, as the game ended past the 11 o’clock hour on the East coast and the first pitch was scheduled for an 11 a.m. local start time. Despite the early start, the RedHawks wasted no time putting numbers on the board. Facing former RedHawk Brian Ernst, Zach Penprase found himself aboard with a leadoff single off his old teammate to start the ball game. Two batters later Chad Mozingo sent a towering fly ball to left field and began to round first. Left-fielder Justin Trapp began to back track for the ball and tripped allowing Mozingo’s moon shot to land. Penprase scored easily from first and Mozingo wheeled all the way in to score. The official scorer took some time in making his decision and it appeared as if Mozingo would be granted an inside-the-park home run. It would have been a difficult play for Trapp to make regardless, but Trapp was given an error and after one it was 2-0 RedHawks.
Starting pitchers for both teams were stingy for the next three innings. Alexander yielded a single and a walk allowing a pair of Jackals on base in the third, but fielded a dribbler back at him and started the 1-6-3 double play to end the threat. In the 4th he allowed a double to Leandro Castro who would go on to steal third, but Alexander would strike out Jamal Austin to end the threat.
Ernst on the other hand, did not allow another runner to get past second base. He went five innings, allowing the two unearned runs in the first on three hits with a pair of walks and five strikeouts.
Alexander’s run of pitching dangerously was over as the Jackals got to him in the fifth. Trapp began with a leadoff single and would steal second base. Two batters later Peter Mooney, the only lefty in New Jersey’s batting order, walked on a full count. The Jackals then began to swipe bases left and right. Trapp and Mooney stole second and third, respectively, at the same time allowing Anthony Gomez to bring in Trapp on a ground ball to the right side making it 2-1. Mooney would proceed to take third, and then stole home on the next pitch making it 2-2.
Joe Staley felt Mooney was out and slammed his helmet down in disgust with the call resulting in an ejection. Staley’s absence came into play later in the game as Fargo-Moorhead was short a position player. That meant the RedHawks would have to play the rest of the game was if they were part of the National League and pitcher’s Tyler Alexander and Benji Waite made their first plate appearances of the season.
The base paths continued to be utilized heavily by the Jackals in the sixth. Leandro Castro reached on a fielder’s choice after a leadoff walk from Mark Threlkeld, and he would steal second. The next batter, Jared Schleuber, laced a base hit plating Castro giving New Jersey it’s first lead of the day 3-2. After the run crossed home they stole three more bases in the inning.
The Jackals would add another run in the seventh off a wild pitch from Benji Waite scoring Threlkeld who singled earlier in the frame making it 4-2 New Jersey after seven innings.
Fargo-Moorhead appeared to have an opportunity to cut into the Jackals’ lead in the top of the eighth. Brandon Sisk was on in relief for New Jersey and he yielded a single to Chad Mozingo to start. Joe Dunigan would bat next and knocked a base hit of his own making it back-to-back singles with just one out. Mozingo would steal third with Joe Bonfe at the plate putting runners on the corners for the ‘Hawks with one out. After a Bonfe pop out, Dunigan was caught trying to steal second and the threat was over.
New Jersey put the game out of reach in the home half of the eighth. Evan Englebrook was on in relief, having just been activated off the inactive list earlier that morning. Making his first appearance since June 21st against Winnipeg, the signs of rust showed as the Jackals pounded out five runs on six hits, including a three-run homer from A.J. Kirby Jones making it 10-2 New Jersey.
Alexander (0-4, 3.00 ERA) takes the loss even though his line of 6.2 innings pitched with three runs (all earned) on seven hits with seven walks and six strikeouts gives him a quality start. Francis Gracesqui (2-0, 3.02 ERA) earns his second win of the season for his work in relief during the sixth and seventh innings.
With the loss, Fargo-Moorhead drops to 20-38 and splits back-to-back series while New Jersey improves to 31-23. The RedHawks will take their 4-4 mark on this road trip to the Can-Am’s top team in the Rockland Boulders for a three game weekend series beginning tomorrow night at 6 p.m. Taylor Stanton (2-1, 3.65 ERA) will be handed the ball at beautiful Provident Bank Park in Ramapo, New York for the series opener. All games can be heard on 740 AM The Fan with Jack Michaels, pre-game for tomorrow night’s game begins at 5:40 p.m.
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