Carlo Cota struck the big blow with a grand slam in the bottom of the first inning as the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks defeated the Lake County Fielders 8-4 on Tuesday night at Newman Outdoor Field.
Lake County (38-51) started the scoring in the top of the first inning. The Fielders were able to push across two runs off RedHawks starting pitcher Josh Smith, who was making his professional debut. Showing some jitters, Smith walked Lake County’s Joshua Short and Brian McFall. An error by RedHawks shortstop Zach Penprase loaded the bases for Fielders center fielder Cody Strait, who singled to right to score Short. Catcher Anthony Esquer followed with an RBI-single of his own to give Lake County a 2-0 lead.
Fargo-Moorhead (40-35) jumped on Fielders rookie starter Pedro Feliciano (1-1). After retiring the first two hitters of the game, Feliciano walked four consecutive RedHawks, putting his team in an early 1-0 hole and setting up Cota’s grand slam to make the score 5-2 after one inning. Feliciano was sent to the showers after just 2/3 of an inning, allowing five runs on just one hit. The southpaw also struck out one to go along with his four walks.
Lake County was able to cut the deficit to 5-3 in the top of the fourth. Strait led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second on a ground ball by Esquer. The speedy center fielder then stole third and later scored on an RBI-single by Juan Valdes.
The RedHawks put the game out of reach in the bottom of the fifth inning, scoring three unearned runs off Lake County reliever Justin Jordan. Fargo-Moorhead’s Nic Jackson reached second after his towering popup was misplayed by Fielders third baseman Amos Ramon. Eric Campbell followed with a single that plated Jackson. Campbell stole second base and was brought home by an RBI-single off the bat of left fielder Jay Cox, who would later score after Alan Rick hit the third RBI-single of the inning back up the box and into center field, making the score 8-3.
Lake County added another run in the top of the eighth but it simply was not enough as Fargo-Moorhead got a solid outing from their bullpen. Right hander Matt Petrusek (2-2) picked up the win after tossing 4.1 innings in relief of Smith. Petrusek allowed only one run on one hit while striking out four. He also walked one Fielder hitter. Rookie Matt Zoltak, who was signed by the RedHawks earlier in the day, came on to pitch a perfect ninth and record two strikeouts.
Fargo-Moorhead’s Cota was 3-for-4 with a double in addition to his grand slam and also scored a run. Cox also had a big night at the plate for the RedHawks, going 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI and scoring two runs.
Lake County’s Strait had a nice game for the second night in a row, going 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored.
The two teams will play the rubber match of their three-game set tomorrow night starting at 7:02pm. Lake County will send John Brownell (3-7, 5.79) to the hill while Scott Fogelson (6-3, 3.47) will get the nod for Fargo-Moorhead.
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