RedHawks still in playoff hunt as regular season ends Monday
WINNIPEG—Hours after his Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks posted another must win Sunday afternoon, Michael Schlact was watching two American Association baseball games—one on his phone and another on his computer.
What he saw on his phone was Gary SouthShore defeat Lincoln 2-1 in 10 innings. And what he saw on his computer was Kansas City defeat St. Paul 11-8.
What that means is the RedHawks' 10-1 win over Winnipeg Sunday was not enough to clinch the wild-card playoff spot. With the American Association's last regular-season games being played Monday, Gary SouthShore and Kansas City remain one game behind the RedHawks in the wild card standings.
"It was kind of nice that we had the early game (Sunday) so we could apply a little pressure on the other two teams so to speak," said Schlacht, who last month was named the RedHawks' interim manager. "Now we have to win. We know we have to control our own destiny."
If the RedHawks can beat Winnipeg again Monday, they will maintain their one-game lead in the wild card standings and earn a playoff berth. If they lose, they need Gary SouthShore and Kansas City to lose to advance to the playoffs. If the RedHawks end up tied with Gary SouthShore or Kansas City, they will not make the playoffs since the other two teams have the tie-breaker advantage.
"Sometimes when it's in your hands, when you have to win a game, it's not easier but it makes you feel better than when you're sitting back and watching," Schlacht said. "We are just finding a way to win and we will treat tomorrow's game just like all the others."
To remain in the hunt for a playoff berth, the RedHawks have won 15 of their last 21 games—including two straight by a combined score of 18-2 against Winnipeg, the team with the best record in the American Association.
"To come into Winnipeg against a lineup they have and a team that they have ... our backs have been against the wall and to do it in that fashion was huge," Schlact said.
RedHawks' righthander Tyler Herron improved his record to 9-3 against Winnipeg Sunday, allowing a run on five hits and striking out nine batters in nine innings.
"Herron had them off-balance all day," Schlacht said.
The RedHawks also got home runs from three players. Second-baseman Brandon Tierney blasted the first home run of the game in the seventh inning to give the Redhawks a 5-1 edge. Then, third baseman Josh Mazzola and catcher Charlie Valerio produced back-to-back home runs in the ninth inning.
Mazzola led all players as he scored twice, drove in two runs and cranked his 15th home run of the season. Bandon Tierney produced three hits and scored twice.
"That was good to see," Schlacht said of the RedHawks' offense. "When we get in trouble at the plate, we are anxious. To see these guys against a good pitcher and be selective, that was good to see."