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Mike McFeely Column: Team needs fireworks from veterans

It started late and went long. It was boring and sloppy. A child, unfortunately, was hit in the head by a foul ball. The RedHawks lost. Other than that, the 2002 home opener was a resounding success Tuesday for the local Northern League ballclub....

It started late and went long. It was boring and sloppy.

A child, unfortunately, was hit in the head by a foul ball.

The RedHawks lost.

Other than that, the 2002 home opener was a resounding success Tuesday for the local Northern League ballclub.

A summer-starved crowd of 4,189 turned out at Newman Outdoor Field to see Fargo-Moorhead take on the Joliet Jackhammers. What the fans saw was an inauspicious 3-2 loss in 10 innings for the home team.

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All you need to know about this game are the two key elements to Joliet's winning rally in the 10th: A leadoff walk to the Jackhammers' No. 8 hitter, Mack Paciorek, by RedHawks' reliever Joe Troilo and a wild, ill-advised, from-the-knees throw to first base by Fargo-Moorhead third baseman Josh Patton.

As far as rallies go, it was much more a thud than a bang.

Which pretty much matched what the RedHawks' lineup did on this night. While starting pitcher Justin Fletschock was busy throwing seven effective innings -- two runs, six hits, one walk, eight strikeouts -- the RedHawks' hitters mustered about as much support as a deadbeat dad.

Fargo-Moorhead collected just seven hits in the game, never more than one in an inning. Four Joliet pitchers punched out RedHawks' batters 10 times.

Generally speaking, seven hits and 10 strikeouts aren't going to get it done.

We know, we know. It's early, just four games into the season. And the RedHawks are starting a rookie out of North Dakota State at designated hitter, which is probably not the way Doug Simunic would have things in his ideal managerial world.

It's far too early to make any sweeping conclusions.

But it's fair to say this: The RedHawks need more production out of their veteran bats.

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Former Minnesota Twin Rich Becker went 3-for-5 Tuesday, upping his average to .333 for the season.

He's all right.

The same, so far, cannot be said for first baseman Dan Rohrmeier and right fielder Brad Gennaro.

Rohrmeier has carried his exhibition struggles to the regular season. He was 0-for-5 with two strikeouts Tuesday, and his at-bats didn't look particularly good.

That makes the former Seattle Mariner 1-for-18 (an average of .056) with no runs batted in. He is batting in the cleanup spot. Nothing more needs to be said.

Gennaro drew a couple of walks and scored a run in his home debut, at least, but failed to get a hit in three official at-bats. That makes the long-time minor-leaguer 1-for-15 (.067) with no runs batted in.

Gennaro never made the big leagues, but has been a solid professional hitter for his entire career. Last year he hit .366 with 14 home runs and 89 RBI in the independent Western League. His lack of production is as much of a head-scratcher as Rohrmeier's.

For the record, aside from Becker and Jon Weber (three hits), the rest of the RedHawks collected exactly one hit against four Joliet pitchers. It's not like Rohrmeier and Gennaro were the only culprits.

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But they have veteran status under Northern League parameters. They are the players around whom a lineup is supposed to be built. They are expected to produce some fireworks -- at least once in awhile.

There are still 86 games remaining in the season, but the only fireworks at the home opener came after the contest.

A goodly portion of the crowd, incidentally, stuck around until nearly 11 p.m. to watch them. Perhaps they wanted to get a little bang for their buck, something they didn't get from the RedHawks during the game.

That is not a good sign, for neither the RedHawks nor Rohrmeier and Gennaro.

Readers can reach Mike McFeely at (701) 241-5580 or mmcfeely@forumcomm.com

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