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Sioux Falls’ Stephen Branca beats the tag by Fargo-Moorhead’s Anthony Kaskadden to steal second base Friday at Newman Outdoor Field. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

Ernst helps Redhawks to victory against Sioux Falls

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Ernst helps Redhawks to victory against Sioux Falls
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Ernst pitched eight solid innings to help lift the RedHawks to a 12-3 victory against the Sioux Falls Canaries in American Association baseball before 3,908 fans.

“He was throwing a lot of strikes, and when he does that, he’s good,” RedHawks manager Doug Simunic said.

The RedHawks (29-31) have won two consecutive games. Ernst has won his past two starts. The right-hander lowered his ERA to 5.71 after Friday’s performance.

“My command was a lot better tonight, getting the fastball where I pretty much wanted to,” Ernst said. “I worked my off-speed pitches off my fastball.”

Ernst scattered six hits, struck out five and walked two batters. The Canaries mounted their biggest threat off Ernst in the second inning. They scored two runs as Ernst walked a batter and gave up two hits in that inning. Sioux Falls center fielder Chris Valencia stole home off a double steal. That tied the score 2-2.

“He just had a little hiccup in the second inning, but other than that, I thought he was in command,” Simunic said.

The RedHawks offense took command in the fourth inning. That is when right fielder Brandon Tripp blasted a three-run home run over the wall in the left-center field. That ball cleared the fence just to the left of the 408-foot sign. That gave F-M a 5-2 lead, one it would never relinquish.

“He really propelled us,” Simunic said of Tripp. “He got us sparked for a good hitting night.”

Tripp added an RBI single in the seventh inning that gave the RedHawks a 10-2 lead. The left-handed swinging Tripp, who has played seven games with F-M, went 3-for-4 with four RBIs.

F-M scored at least one run in the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings to overpower the Canaries.

“We haven’t done that much this year,” Simunic said. “Usually, we run into an inning or two where we go stale. Tonight, we were able to add on and take advantage.”

Ernst threw 117 pitches, including 72 strikes. Simunic said Ernst’s fastball topped out around 91 miles per hour. At one point, Ernst retired 12 of 13 batters. He faced the minimum in the first, fourth, fifth and seventh innings.

“I worked on establishing my fastball down in the zone, and it worked out for me,” Ernst said. “It’s always easier to pitch with the lead.”

Recently acquired Erik Castro also had a big game for the RedHawks. The first baseman went 4-for-4 with an RBI and also reached base on a walk. Castro is batting .317 through 10 games with F-M. Tripp is batting .375 in his seven games with the RedHawks.

Ernst hopes a game like Friday can provide a spark for the team.

“We put up runs and we played good defense so I think it could help us,” Ernst said. “I know our team can put up runs. I knew it was going to come eventually.”

RedHawks starting third baseman Ronnie Bourquin was out of the lineup Friday to attend a family wedding. Bourquin is expected to rejoin the team Sunday.

SIOUX FALLS            REDHAWKS

                 ab   r   h   bi                    ab    r  h   bi

Tinoco lf-rf 5  0   1    0  Pnprse ss    5   2  1    0

Jones lf-rf  3  0   0    0  Carroll lf      3   1  0    1

Frny ph-lf   1  1   0    0  Rthrfrd 3b    5   1  3    2

Krb-Jns 1b 4  0   3    1  Jckson cf     4   1  0    1

Duffy dh     4  0   0    0  Castro 1b    4   1  4    1

Mndez 3b   2  1   0    0  Prmore c     5   1  1    0

Vlncia cf     4  1   1    0  Tripp rf        4   2  3    4

Branca ss  3  0   1    1  Robinsn dh  4   1  1    0

Lind 2b       3  0   0    0  Kskddn 2b   4   2  2    2

Dultz c       4  0   0    0 

Totals      33  3   6    2  Totals       38 12 15  12

SF                      020   000  010 –  3    6    2

FM                     200   313  12x –12  15    1

E–Mendez 2 (10), Retherford (5). DP–Sioux Falls 2, RedHawks 1. LOB–Sioux Falls 7, RedHawks 6. 2B–Kirby-Jones (13), Retherford (22), Kaskadden (4). HR–Tripp (2). SB–Valencia (6), Branca (2).

SIOUX FALLS

                           IP      H      R    ER   BB    SO

Moore L,4-5        6     11       9        8       1       3

Winter                 2       4       3        2       1       1

REDHAWKS

                           IP      H      R    ER   BB    SO

Ernst W,5-4        8       6       3        2       2       5

Erasmus             1       0       0        0       1       1

Umpires–Home: Shoenwald. First: Ghani. Third: Silverman. Time–2:22. A–3,908.

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Eric Peterson
Peterson covers small college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.

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