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Dexter delivers, RedHawks force decisive Game 3 in division championship series

The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks rallied in the late innings to knock off the Kansas City Monarchs to force a deciding Game 3 in the West Division championship series.

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Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks shortstop Sam Dexter, shown here earlier this season, had the go-head single in the eighth inning against the Kansas City Monarchs on Wednesday at Legends Field.
Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum
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KANSAS CITY — Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks shortstop Sam Dexter had struggled at the plate this American Association baseball postseason, but he delivered Wednesday night with the season on the line.

Dexter delivered the go-ahead RBI single in the eighth inning to help lift the RedHawks to an 8-5 victory against the Kansas City Monarchs in the West Division championship series at Legends Field.

“That was awesome," Dexter said. "I was glad I was able to help the team and deliver in that moment.”

F-M tied the best-of-3 series at 1-1 with the win. Game 3 is slated for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Legends Field. Left-handed rookie Peyton Wigginton is scheduled to start for the RedHawks. F-M and Kansas City had to top two records in the league during the regular season.

“It’s going to be nerve wracking as a staff, but I’m excited for the opportunity that these guys earned tonight," said RedHawks bench coach Anthony Renz. "For a league, you can’t do much better than a Game 3 between the Kansas City Monarchs and the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks. It's going to be pay-per-view TV type stuff. Tonight was basically a heavyweight fight so (Thursday) should be the sequel."

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Dexter's RBI single gave F-M a 6-5 lead in the eighth. Right fielder John Silviano added an RBI single in the ninth inning for a 7-5 lead. Two batters later, an Alec Olund run-scoring single staked F-M to an 8-5 lead.

Dexter was 1-for-17 in the playoffs before his clutch hit in the eighth inning.

“You’ve just got to stay with it and believe in yourself," Dexter said.

The lead changed hands multiple times before Dexter gave F-M the lead for good in the eighth. The RedHawks scored seven runs over the final four innings.

“The best way I can describe it is nobody wants to go home on either team. It’s going to be a lot of fun (Thursday)," Dexter said. "It’s been a great series so far.”

The RedHawks surged into the lead in the seventh inning. Silviano lined a two-run single into center field that scored Dexter and Drew Ward for a 5-3 lead. Silviano was 2-for-4 with three RBIs.

“When the big moment comes, he always seems to be on top," Renz said of Silviano.

Monarchs third baseman Ryan Grotjohn answered with a towering solo home run off relief pitcher Reid Birlingmair in the seventh to slice the F-M lead to 5-4. First baseman Casey Gillaspie added a two-out RBI double that tied the score at 5-5 in the bottom of the seventh.

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The RedHawks used the long ball earlier to get back into the game. First baseman Manny Boscan erased a two-run deficit in the sixth inning after he belted an opposite-field, two-run home run over the wall in left field, tying the score at 3-3. Silviano drew a one-out walk and scored ahead of Boscan.

The RedHawks started strong. They took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Leo Pina's groundout drove in Peter Maris from third base. Maris was hit by a pitch to start the game.

The Monarchs countered in the second inning. J.C. Escarra drove in a run on a fielder's choice that tied the score at 1-1. Pete Kozma added an RBI single that scored Escarra from second base to give KC a 2-1 lead.

Kansas City center fielder Jan Hernandez belted an RBI single off the wall into left field for a 3-1 lead in the third inning. The Monarchs later loaded the bases in the third, but F-M pitcher Tyler Grauer was able to pitch out of the jam without further damage.

The RedHawks threatened in the fourth inning, loading the bases with one out. Kansas City starter Nick Belzer, however, got Dexter to ground into a double play to end the potential rally.

Dexter delivered later to force the deciding game.

“We’re excited for it," Dexter said. "It’s going to be a challenge. Kansas City is a really good team.”

Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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