FARGO-The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks blended stellar pitching with clutch hitting on a crisp Wednesday evening at Newman Outdoor Field.
That combination proved successful.
Designated hitter Chris Grayson capped a four-run eighth inning with a three-run double that helped lift the RedHawks to a 4-0 victory against the Lincoln Saltdogs in American Association baseball before 3,900 fans.
"We have to win," said RedHawks interim manager Michael Schlact.
The RedHawks (54-41) snapped a two-game losing streak and remained tied with the Kansas City T-Bones for first place in the wild-card standings. The top team in the wild card earns a spot in the postseason. Kansas City owns the head-to-head tiebreaker against F-M.
"When you come down the stretch like this and you know you're tied with another team that holds your tiebreaker, you can't worry too much about that," Schlact said. "You just have to try to win every game."
RedHawks shortstop Yhoxian Medina came to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth inning after Lincoln intentionally walked F-M leadoff hitter Devan Ahart.
Medina fell behind 0 balls, 2 strikes in the count before fouling off two pitches. Medina then hit a grounder to the second baseman that was ruled an infield single, and scored Trever Adams from third base to give the RedHawks a 1-0 lead.
"Medina battled. That was a great at-bat," Schlact said. "That was huge for us."
Grayson put an exclamation point on the game-deciding rally with a ringing double into right-center field that cleared the bases and gave the RedHawks a 4-0 lead.
"That's a good team over there," Grayson said. "One run is not enough. ... We're not satisfied with one run."
Grayson finished 1-for-4, but that one hit was critical as the RedHawks try to make a push for the postseason with five games remaining in the regular season.
"He's been of the clutch guys," Schlact said of Grayson. "He showed you right there selectivity again. He got a pitch he could drive and he didn't miss it."
RedHawks starter Tyler Herron pitched 7⅓ scoreless innings. The right-hander scattered eight hits, struck out eight batters and walked none, but didn't figure in the decision. Herron lowered his season ERA to 3.09 with the performance.
"Herron is a high-class guy," Grayson said. "Even though he left the game without the win, he knows he gave us a chance as hitters to win the game. ... He put us in a situation to win."
RedHawks reliever Trey McNutt got Lincoln second baseman Cesar Valera to ground into a double play to end the top of the eighth inning. The Saltdogs had runners on first and second base with one out when McNutt came on in relief of Herron. McNutt earned the victory.
RedHawks closer Casey Weathers pitched a scoreless ninth inning in a non-save situation to seal the victory.
"As long as our pitchers keep us in it ... we're confident in our squad to get it done," Grayson said.
The RedHawks host Lincoln (57-37) at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at Newman Outdoor Field to conclude the five-game series. That is the final home game of the regular season for F-M.