FARGO — The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks released veteran outfielder Keury De La Cruz, the American Association baseball team announced Wednesday.
De La Cruz has been charged with Class B misdemeanor simple assault in Cass County District Court, accused of punching Sioux City pitcher Jason Garcia in the face after Tuesday’s game at Newman Outdoor Field.
“It’s an unfortunate incident, and it’s not anything that we stand for in this community and especially not in this organization,” RedHawks manager Michael Schlact said prior to Wednesday’s game against Sioux City. “We released him immediately. … There’s consequences for actions.”
De La Cruz was batting .275 with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs in 84 games, the team leader in home runs at the time of his release. In three seasons with the RedHawks, De La Cruz had an overall .286 average with 42 home runs and 165 RBIs.
Sioux City manager Steve Montgomery, a former RedHawks player and pitching coach, had no comment on the charge.
There were bench-clearing incidents during Monday’s and Tuesday’s games between Sioux City and the RedHawks at Newman Outdoor Field. De La Cruz was a focal point in both incidents.
According to court documents, Garcia was walking through a stadium hallway, which runs next to the RedHawks’ locker room, on the way to the Sioux City team bus after Tuesday’s game. De La Cruz was sitting on a cooler outside the locker room. Garcia walked past De La Cruz, who punched Garcia in the face one time.
Sioux City outfielder Luis Durango was sitting across the hallway from De La Cruz during the assault. Durango said De La Cruz might have hit Garcia with his watch, but was not sure, court documents said. Durango said after De La Cruz hit Garcia, De La Cruz’s watch fell to the ground.
Garcia had several cuts on his face, one cut inside his lip and was bleeding, according to court documents.
The RedHawks are competing for a spot in the playoffs. They have 14 games to play in the regular season, including Wednesday’s game against Sioux City.
“My job is at this point to keep the guys focused on what we need to do, which is play baseball,” Schlact said. “You have to move forward. You have to keep playing.”
Sioux City earns series victory
The Explorers scored the game’s first five runs Wednesday night to fuel a 7-3 victory against the RedHawks to win the deciding game of a three-game series before 2,965 fans.
The RedHawks (47-40) have lost two consecutive games. They travel to Gary SouthShore (50-38) on Thursday, Aug. 23, for a doubleheader that starts at 5 p.m. and kicks off a four-game series. Gary is 2½ games ahead of F-M for second place in the North Division. The top two teams in each division make the playoffs.
“We’re going to Gary for four games,” Schlact said. “We have an opportunity to do something special and that’s what our minds are set on right now.”
Sioux City scored two runs in the fifth inning Wednesday to build a five-run lead. Jose Sermo started the rally with an RBI single. Jay Baum capped the inning with a run-scoring single that gave the Explorers a 5-0 lead.
RedHawks center fielder Devan Ahart answered with a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth. F-M added two more runs in the sixth inning. A Derrick Fox sacrifice fly cut the Sioux City lead to 6-3.
Ahart finished 3-for-5 to lead the RedHawks. Leo Pina and Maikol Gonzalez each added two hits for F-M.