By Ashley Prest
FARGO, N.D. — Winnipeg Goldeyes third baseman Amos Ramon hit a pair of doubles, a two-out, two-run home run and a single in four at-bats to lead the Goldeyes to a 4-2 victory over the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks at Newman Outdoor Field on Wednesday.
With the victory, the Goldeyes took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five American Association semifinal series before a crowd of 2,178. Goldeyes starter Ace Walker recorded the win after pitching six innings and allowing just two runs on four hits while giving up six walks. Brian Beuning recorded the save, pitching three innings and allowing one hit. RedHawks’ Tyler Herron took the loss.
The two teams will meet again today at Newman Outdoor Field with starting pitchers expected to be Goldeyes southpaw Chris Salamida (5-7, 3.77) and RedHawks’ lefty Alex Caldera (10-4, 3.50).
"We needed that, as a team. In 2006, I played this team in the playoffs, I was only here for 10 games but when I got that first hit, it was like a monkey off my back," said a grinning Ramon, who makes his home in Winnipeg. "We needed that win. Great game by Ace, great game by all of us. We played great defence today."
Games 3-5 are set for Shaw Park on Friday (7 p.m.) and, if necessary, Saturday (6 p.m.) and Sunday (5 p.m.)
Goldeyes catcher Luis Alen, who came into the game as the hottest-hitting Goldeye against the RedHawks in the regular season hitting .397 against them, went 2-for-3 and scored two runs.
"Ramon is a pretty good hitter, he’s a seasoned guy, he’s been around. Even though he’s batting ninth, that doesn’t mean (anything), he gets a lot of big hits for them," said RedHawks manager Doug Simunic. "Ace Walker was pretty good in the middle of the game. I thought he used his change-up real well to keep us off balance but we didn’t get a lot going from the first inning on."
While Winnipeg hit into a pair of double-plays to end both the first and second innings, Fargo started the game on fire, scoring two runs on two hits in the first inning. In fact, it was two runs after just three batters. Nic Jackson cracked a two-run double, scoring Zach Penprase who got aboard on a leadoff walk by Walker and Buddy Sosnoskie, who got on with a double.
Goldeyes left-fielder Kyle Day scored Winnipeg’s first run in the top of the third after he was hit by a pitch in the right knee, walked it off and stayed in the game. He was driven in on a put-out of Price Kendall to bring Winnipeg within one run and Fargo leading 2-1.
Ramon’s home run came in the top of the seventh, crushing a shot over the 408-foot sign in centre field, scoring Luis Alen for a 3-2 lead. Ramon’s single in the top of the ninth scored Alen to make the score 4-2 Winnipeg.
Day made a game-saving play in the seventh inning with Winnipeg leading 3-2. One play earlier, Day was tagged with an error that put two runners in scoring position. But then Day caught a fly ball off Buddy Sosnoskie and threw to Alen for the put-out at home plate of Todd Jennings, who reprsented the tying run.
"That was a huge save right there and kind of took the momentum away from them," Ramon said.
Diamond Dust: The RedHawks won the season series against Winnipeg 12-6. However, each team won more games in each other’s park than their own. Fargo went 9-2 at Shaw Park while Winnipeg went 4-3 at Newman Outdoor Field... the RedHawks tied the league record of regular-season wins in a single season (65), which was set by Lincoln in 2006.