Metzger delivers grand slam in victory for RedHawks
FARGO—The top of the order lifted the RedHawks to a 5-2 win over St. Paul on Thursday in American Association baseball at Newman Outdoor Field in front of 4,272 fans.
The RedHawks struck first in the bottom of the third inning. Tim Colwell hit a two-out triple and came around to score on a Brennan Metzger single.
St. Paul scored both its runs the following inning. Nathaniel Maggio hit a ground-rule double to left field, pushing Dante Bichette Jr. to third. Bichette Jr. then scored on an Aaron Gretz single to center. Jake Smith hit a sacrifice fly to then bring home Maggio, giving the Saints a 2-1 lead.
Colwell, F-M's leadoff hitter, was on the bad end of a controversial call in the bottom of the fifth inning. He skied a ball to left field which landed on the left-field line. Though it visibly kicked up chalk, which would make it a fair ball, it was called foul.
"I'm usually a pretty level-headed guy, and here's the other part of it ... I'm going to fight for my boys and I love these guys," RedHawks manager Michael Schlact said. "So knowing that it was fair, seeing that it was fair, I went out there really upset. That was the most upset I've been, because we're fighting with everything that we have to not only make the playoffs, but win a championship."
Instead of an extra-base hit and a run, Colwell ended up drawing a walk to load the bases.
After having a seemingly missed call not go their way on a play that could've given the RedHawks the lead, the momentum quickly shifted.
Metzger came up to the plate after Colwell walked and crushed a grand slam over the left-field fence. It was his eighth homer of the season.
"I was obviously pretty frustrated after that call, that was a big point in the game for us," Metzger said. "I just wanted to get up there and be aggressive, just look for something I could handle and luckily the first pitch was right there and I got it."
Metzger finished the day 2-for-4, while driving in all five of the RedHawks runs. Colwell went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, and Maikol Gonzalez had the team's only other hit with a run scored.
Trey McNutt (5-6) gave up two earned runs on nine hits with one walk and three strikeouts through 6 1/3 innings to earn the win for the RedHawks. Schlact said McNutt has been working on his mechanics lately, which showed in his outing Thursday.
"We've been working hard at it and what ended up happening is what you saw," Schlact said. "The result today was huge. Getting the angle on the baseball, getting able to snap off the breaking ball and command the change-up. When he can do that he can beat anybody."
St. Paul threatened to score in the top of the seventh. Kyle Barrett hit a one-out single, ending McNutt's day.
Travis Ballew entered the game for the RedHawks and struck out the first batter he saw. Brady Shoemaker then reached on an error by the RedHawks, putting runners on the corners with two outs. Ballew was able to third and final out, defusing the Saints scoring opportunity.
Randy McCurry closed out the game for the RedHawks. He gave up a walk with two strikeouts in the ninth to earn his 14th save of the season.
The RedHawks (40-29) took three out of four games against St. Paul. They have won seven of their last eight series. Metzger said the team has found its groove.
"We're a good team, we've got a lot of guys one through nine that are going to hit the ball, that are going to do their jobs and our pitching staff are in there shutting the door," Metzger said. "We're just having fun. To be honest that's they key. We're just out there having a good time and that's making it a lot easier on us."