FARGO, N.D.-- If it wasn't the best day of the season for Winnipeg Goldeyes third baseman Amos Ramon, only a series win could possibly top it.
Ramon, who makes his home in Winnipeg, hit a pair of doubles, a two-out, two-run home run and a single in four at-bats to bring the Goldeyes back from behind and scored the winning run in a 4-2 victory Wednesday over the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks at Newman Outdoor Field.
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 just one hit. RedHawks' Tyler Herron took the loss.
The two teams will meet again today at Newman Outdoor Field with the 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. "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.)
The Goldeyes came to Fargo planning to take at least one game and accomplished that part of their goal.
"This is huge momentum for us," Ramon said. "Who cares what happened in the season. They were the best team in the whole league. We've just got to come out and play and hopefully carry it over to Friday when we get to Winnipeg."
Winnipeg catcher Luis Alen, who came into the game as the hottest Goldeye against the RedHawks (hitting .397) in the regular season, went 2-for-3 and scored two runs Wednesday.
"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."
Whether it was a bit of nerves for Walker, the veteran righty had a tough start. He allowed three walks against the first nine batters but then righted the ship. Forney came out to talk to him in the first inning after the second walk in five batters. After his fifth and sixth walk in the bottom of the fifth when Winnipeg was trailing 2-1, there was a mound-meeting before Walker struck out Eric Campbell to end the inning and get the Goldeyes out of trouble.
Goldeyes' left-fielder Kyle Day made a game-saving play in the bottom of the seventh with Winnipeg leading 3-2.
Day was tagged with an error that put two runners in scoring position earlier in the inning. But he caught a fly ball off the next batter, Buddy Sosnoskie, and threw out Todd Jennings at home plate.
"That was a huge save right there and kind of took the momentum away from them," Ramon said.
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 bottom of 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 Sosnoski, who got on with a double.
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 putout 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.
DIAMOND DUST: The RedHawks won the season series against Winnipeg 12-6.
Winnipeg vs. Fargo-Moorhead
Game 2: Today at Newman Outdoor Field, 7 p.m.
Game 3: Friday at Shaw Park, 7 p.m.
x-Game 4: Saturday at Shaw Park, 6 p.m.
x-Game 5: Sunday at Shaw Park, 5 p.m.
x- If necessary