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Fargo Wins North; Gary Forces Fifth Game

09/10/2005 9:58 AM - The Fargo Moorhead RedHawks scored seven runs in the 1st inning and went on to a 13-6 victory over the Lincoln Saltdogs Saturday afternoon to win the 2005 Northern League North Division Series, three games to one.

The RedHawks will face the winner of the St. Paul-Gary series in the best of five Northern League Championship Series beginning Tuesday night at Newman Outdoor Field. The first two games of the Series will be played in Fargo.

The RailCats extended the South Division Playoff Series to a fifth game with a 1-0 victory over the Saints on Saturday night at Gary's U.S. Steel Yard. The teams play at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday in Gary to decide the Division title.

Fargo-Moorhead scored seven runs in the top of the 1st off loser Kyle Ruwe and added five more in the 3rd to take a 12-0 lead. Brian Ward had four hits and scored three runs, and Eric Kofler (pictured at right) drove in three runs, giving him seven for the series.

Todd George, who won his last seven regular season decisions, worked the 1st 5.1 innings for the victory.

Mike Goss and Josh Patton each homered for Lincoln and Kevin Sullivan was 3-4.

This marks the 6th time in its ten seasons of existence that Fargo-Moorhead has advanced to the Northern League Championship Series. The RedHawks captured the league crown in 1998 and again in 2003.

Saturday’s win for Fargo-Moorhead was its 71st of the season, the most overall including playoffs in Northern League history. In 1998 the RedHawks won 64 regular season contests and were 6-1 in the playoffs for a 70-22 overall mark. Fargo-Moorhead is 71-28 overall in 2005.

Lincoln which lost 12 of its last 14 overall games, finished the season with a 53-47 overall record. The Saltdogs are 1-2 lifetime in NL playoff series.

The South Division Playoff featured an outstanding pitching matchup of lefthanders Cody Fisher for Gary and Luis Villarreal for St. Paul. Fisher worked eight shutout innings, issuing just four hits to earn the victory.

Villarreal also permitted just four hits in his seven innings of work while allowing the game's lone run in the 6th inning. Fehlandt Lentini reached on a fielder's choice with one out, was singled to 2nd by John Schmitz, and scored on Ben Risinger's double to left. Villarreal had issued just one hit over the 1st five innings.

Derek Lopez came on to record the final three outs and earn the save as the RailCats won the 4th straight one-run game in this Series. Gary received several outstanding defensive plays to help preserve the 1st shutout of the 2005 Northern League playoffs. St. Paul's Kris Cox was the only player with more than one hit in the game, producing a pair of singles.

Sunday's South Division finale features a rematch of the Game One matchup as St. Paul's Hank Woodman faces Gary's Willie Glen. Neither pitcher had a decision in St. Paul's 6-4 victory on Tuesday. It marks the 3rd time in the last 11 days that the two pitchers have faced each other.

2005 NORTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES PLAYOFF RESULTS AND SCHEDULE (All Times Central)

NORTH DIVISION
Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks Win Series, 3-1
Tuesday, Sept. 6....at Fargo-Moorhead 7, Lincoln 6, 10 innings.
Wednesday, Sept. 7...at Fargo-Moorhead 9, Lincoln 2
Friday, Sept. 9...at Lincoln 9, Fargo-Moorhead 3
Saturday, Sept. 10...Fargo-Moorhead 13, at Lincoln 6

SOUTH DIVISION
St. Paul Saints vs. Gary SouthShore RailCats, Series Tied, 2-2
Tuesday, Sept. 6...at St. Paul 6, Gary 4.
Wednesday, Sept. 7...Gary 10, at St. Paul 9
Friday, Sept. 9...St. Paul 5, at Gary 4
Saturday, Sept. 10...at Gary 1, St. Paul 0
Sunday, Sept. 11...St. Paul (Hank Woodman) at Gary (Willie Glen), 2:00 p.m.

2005 NORTHERN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Gary/St. Paul winner vs. Fargo-Moorhead
Tuesday, Sept. 13….Gary or St. Paul at Fargo-Moorhead, 6:05 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 14…Gary or St. Paul at Fargo-Moorhead, 6:05 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 15…Travel Day
Friday, Sept. 16…Fargo-Moorhead at Gary or St. Paul, TBA
Saturday, Sept, 17…Fargo-Moorhead at Gary or St. Paul, TBA*
Sunday, Sept. 18…Fargo-Moorhead at Gary or St. Paul, TBA*
*If necessary