Redhawks dominate Goldeyes to force rubber match
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The Winnipeg Goldeyes found themselves on the wrong side of a hot arm on Friday.
The Fish fell to the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks 8-3 in Game 2 of the American Association West Division semifinals on a cool overcast evening at Newman Outdoor Field.
The best-of-three series is tied 1-1 heading into the fateful rubber match tonight in Fargo.
Redhawks pitcher Tyler Grauer took advantage of a Goldeyes lineup that was without league-MVP Max Murphy, who broke his leg in a home-plate collision during Wednesday’s series opener. The southpaw hurler conceded just three hits and one run while striking out five batters in six innings.
Toeing the bump for the third-seed Goldeyes, Luis Ramirez had a roller-coaster of a night.
After a promising first inning, in which Ramirez retired the Redhawks in order, striking out two, the hard-throwing righty struggled against Fargo’s heavy left-handed lineup in the second frame.
For the second consecutive game, the Redhawks drew first blood by way of a John Silviano home run. The right fielder’s second blast of the series was a two-run shot lined over the centre-field wall.
The Redhawks, who hit 115 dingers and churned 5.85 runs per game during the regular season (fourth-most), appeared to let out some frustration after garnering just one run against Goldeyes’ starting pitcher Landen Bourassa – and just three runs overall — in Game 1, going deep three times in Game 2.
Two batters later, Evan Alexander punched a two-bagger to left field. A couple of wild pitches from Ramirez advanced him to third, and eventually, home for an easy run.
Peter Maris later capped a monster inning for the second-seeded Redhawks when he crushed a base-clearing two-run shot to swell the host’s lead to five runs.
Ramirez, who, despite an otherwise impressive campaign that saw him finish second among all pitchers in wins (10) and strikeouts (133), had struggled against the Redhawks this season to the tune of 15 hits, nine earned runs and seven walks in 16 innings of work (three starts).
While the critical damage had already been done, Ramirez managed to settle in before being pulled. He ended his night allowing eight hits, six runs and one walk while striking out eight batters in five innings of work.
Just when the Fish were floundering for any sort of offence, Ian Sagdal showed a heartbeat for the Winnipeg club in the sixth inning. The third baseman, who will be leaned on to replace the production left behind by Murphy, scorched a leadoff home run over the right field wall to break the goose egg and draw the visitors within five runs.
The Goldeyes’ pulse grew when Michael Crouse pulled a two-run bomb over the right field wall in the top of the seventh inning. Crouse, a Canadian-born outfielder acquired from the Chicago Dogs ahead of the trade deadline, drew into the lineup following Murphy’s injury.
The Fish couldn’t muster any more runs in the last two innings, leaving the park without a series sweep.
Joshua Frey-Sam happily welcomes a spirited sports debate any day of the week.