2013 Semifinals: Game One
Fargo-Moorhead 2, Gary SouthShore 0
Game one of the semifinals between Fargo-Moorhead and Gary SouthShore was a scoreless deadlock for the bulk of the contest. The RedHawks’ Taylor Stanton (pictured) and the RailCats’ Alain Quijano battled on the hill, but Fargo-Moorhead broke through with a couple of eighth-inning runs to take the series-opener, 2-0.
Quijano was dealing heading into the eighth. The American Association wins leader had retired the previous 10 batters he faced going into the seventh and worked out of trouble in that seventh inning. But, the RedHawks started to get to the RailCats’ starter after that.
Ronnie Bourquin led off the inning with a single and C.J. Rethorford moved him over to third base with a one-out knock. With the seed of a rally planted, the RailCats decided to go to the bullpen and bring in Kyle Lindquist, but the reliever could not stop the momentum. Jeremiah Piepkorn came through with a RBI single to break the scoreless tie and Tim Alberts followed up with a sacrifice fly to put the RedHawks on top, 2-0.
After Stanton pitched 6.2 scoreless frames, Fargo-Moorhead brought in Joe Harris to go the rest of the way. The left-hander entered right before the RedHawks took the lead and he was just as effective as his predecessor at shutting down the RailCats’ offense. Harris surrendered just one hit and struck out four batters over 2.1 innings to earn the victory in game one.
Wichita 2, Grand Prairie 0 (12 innings)
The opening game of the semifinals between Wichita and Grand Prairie was a marathon and a pitcher’s duel, if nothing else. In a game that lasted 12 innings and took four hours and 26 minutes to complete, the Wingnuts barely edged the AirHogs with a couple runs in the top of the 12th to take game one, 2-0.
Aaron Wilkerson for Grand Prairie and Junior Guerra for the Wingnuts were nearly untouchable from the start. Wilkerson allowed just three hits over seven innings, while Guerra surrendered five in six frames, but neither gave up a run.
The bullpens were equally dominant. Five Wingnuts relievers combined for six innings of one-hit baseball. As for the AirHogs, their five relievers allowed just three hits over five frames. But, Wichita needed just a walk and three hits in the 12th to take the ballgame.
John Rodriguez led off the Wichita 12th with a single to right field and Brent Clevelen delivered a one-out single to put a pair on base. Abel Nieves drew a walk to load the bases and that brought up Johnny Bowden in a big spot. Grand Prairie called on reliever Brandon Bargas to replace Stephen Nikonchik, who started the inning. But, Bargas walked Bowden to bring home Rodriguez with the game’s first run. David Amberson was the next batter and he came through with a single to left field to add an insurance run and that was all the Wingnuts needed.
Josh Dew, who had 27 saves in the regular season, came in for the bottom of the 12th and closed the books on game one. The right-hander worked a perfect final inning with a strikeout, a fly out to center and line out to second base, as Wichita came away with the opening game against Grand Prairie.
Photo courtesy of the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks