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RedHawks notebook: Best-of-5 series begins today vs. Schaumburg

Hank vs. Hank. Teacher vs. former pupil. Players vs. former team. Those are just some of the storylines in the Northern League Western Division championship series, which starts at 7:05 p.m. today at Newman Outdoor Field. The Fargo-Moorhead RedHa...

Hank vs. Hank. Teacher vs. former pupil. Players vs. former team.

Those are just some of the storylines in the Northern League Western Division championship series, which starts at 7:05 p.m. today at Newman Outdoor Field.

The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks play the Schaumburg Flyers in a best-of-5 playoff series.

"There are so many little subplots to it," RedHawks pitching coach Jeff Bittiger said.

Game 1 pits two of the top pitchers in the league against each other. RedHawks right-hander Hank Thoms (6-2, 2.42 ERA) squares off against Flyers right-hander Hank Woodman (11-5, 3.13 ERA), who led the league in strikeouts this season with 126 in 132 innings.

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Neither team saw the other team's ace as they split six meetings in the regular season.

"There is some unknown there," Flyers manager Andy McCauley said.

However, McCauley is familiar with RedHawks manager Doug Simunic and Bittiger. He was a coach with the RedHawks during the 1996 and 1997 seasons.

"It's going to be strange there is no doubt about it," McCauley said. "Leading up to it, there will be some mixed feelings, but once the game starts it's just going to be another game."

The Flyers also have a pair of former RedHawks in key spots in their lineup. Shortstop Geoff McCallum bats lead-off and plays shortstop. All-Star catcher Kirk Pierce hits fourth and led the league with 43 extra-base hits.

The Flyers acquired McCallum and Pierce from the RedHawks in a trade before this season.

The RedHawks counter with the league's top offense. F-M led the league with a .290 team batting average and also scored a league-best 548 runs (6.1 per game).

Sensational Sansom

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RedHawks closer Trevor Sansom has excelled in whatever role he's played. He started the season as a set-up man before being moved to the back of the bullpen.

Sansom went 8-1 in the regular season with a 2.09 ERA and added six saves. Opponents batted .201 against the hard-throwing right-hander.

"It's been confidence," Sansom said. "I don't know what gave me the confidence. It's been a mindset."

Sansom may become more important in the postseason after reliever Doug Young quit the team before the final game of the regular season.

Right-hander Steve Montgomery will step into Young's role. Before Young left Montgomery may have been used as a starter.

"He can adapt to any role," Bittiger said of Montgomery. "He's a good competitor. I'm confident giving him the ball with the season on the line."

Fastballs

The RedHawks are scheduled to send left-hander Jodie Kennedy (10-6, 3.64 ERA) to the mound for Wednesday's Game 2 at Newman Outdoor Field and right-hander Todd George (9-4, 3.41 ERA) for Friday's Game 3 at Alexian Field. The Flyers are expected to counter with right-hander Dave Therneau (2-3, 4.25 ERA) in Game 2 and right-hander Jeff Keppen in Game 3 (6-7, 5.32 ERA). ... RedHawks first baseman Toby Rumfield finished fifth in the league in batting with a .332 average (106-for-319) in 80 games. Rumfield batted .360 (9-for-25) with one home run and 8 RBIs against Schaumburg in six regular-season games. ... RedHawks shortstop Brian Sprout finished second in the league in runs scored with 70. ... RedHawks center fielder Joe Mathis tied for the league lead with nine triples. ... Flyers outfielder T. J. Staton batted .778 (7-for-9) with one home run and five RBIs against the RedHawks in three regular-season games.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513

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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