FARGO-It was nearly 90 degrees and the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks offense was scorching, notching 19 hits in a 13-1 victory against the Texas AirHogs on Thursday in American Association baseball at Newman Outdoor Field.
Charlie Valerio went 3-for-5 with two runs and three RBIs, including his ninth home run this season. This was his first game back from a wrist injury after being hit by a pitch on June 10.
"That was great, I feel awesome," Valerio said. "I've been bored in the dugout just watching my teammates. I said, 'Wow I have to play, I have to play, I have to get ready.' Every day I'm working hard trying to get ready."
Brennan Metzger, Chris Jacobs and Leo Pina each had two RBIs, while Maikol Gonzalez and Devan Ahart each added one.
Texas struck first, getting a leadoff double from Song Yunqi, who eventually scored on a Dillon Thomas sacrifice fly. The AirHogs stranded one runner as F-M starter Will Solomon got out of the jam.
After the first, Texas would only have three more base runners the rest of the game. Solomon (4-4) pitched a complete game four-hitter with one walk and seven strikeouts.
"Obviously, pitching the whole game is big, letting the bullpen rest going into a big road series," RedHawks manager Michael Schlact said. "I think also for him to prove that he can do it to gain confidence. And to get out of that first inning with one run, it was a jam for him and he did a really good job of limiting the damage."
The RedHawks gave Solomon early run support with three runs in their half of the first inning with RBI singles from Ahart and Valerio. Keury De La Cruz then reached first base on an error, followed by an RBI single by Pina, making it 3-1 RedHawks.
Solomon was grateful that his offense gave him early run support after allowing Texas to score early.
"It's nice when you have offense behind you keeping you comfortable," Solomon said. "You can just go out there, keep throwing strikes and letting the defense work."
F-M's bats stayed hot, adding two runs in both the second and third innings, ending AirHog's starter Meng Weiqiang's day. He pitched two innings, giving up five runs (four earned) with one walk and two strikeouts, falling to 3-4 this season.
The fourth and fifth were the only innings where the RedHawks failed to score. They tacked on three more in the sixth, when Ahart was brought home by Valerio's home run. Pina tacked on another by driving in De La Cruz with an RBI double.
Jacobs brought home Ahart and Valerio with an RBI double in the seventh, and Steve Zimmerman scored on an error in the eighth, giving the RedHawks a 13-1 lead.
"When you look what the bats did, that's huge momentum-wise for them, not only that they can do it, but also to prove to everyone in that dugout that momentum is a real thing and hitting is contagious," Schlact said. "That was really good to see."
F-M was in fourth place entering the series with Texas. Sweeping the series propelled the RedHawks to the top part of the North Division standings. Schlact was glad to see his team gain some momentum and move to the top of the standings.
"They have confidence in themselves and everyone around them," Schlact said.