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RedHawks open season in style

SIOUX CITY, Iowa -- For a team still learning each other's names, winning a season opener with finesse was a pretty nifty feat. Hitless for six innings against Sioux City left-hander David Glick, the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks scored once in the...

SIOUX CITY, Iowa -- For a team still learning each other's names, winning a season opener with finesse was a pretty nifty feat.

Hitless for six innings against Sioux City left-hander David Glick, the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks scored once in the seventh inning, then twice more in the eighth Friday to launch their seventh Northern League baseball season with a 3-1 victory over the Explorers at Lewis and Clark Park.

"We're just getting to know each other, this is a brand-new team," RedHawks manager Doug Simunic said. "I liked what I saw as far as how they handle themselves in a professional game."

With a crowd of 2,486 braving a chilly opening night, the Explorers tasted defeat for the first time after sweeping five pre-season games, bowing in spite of a brilliant pitching by both Glick and reliever Denny McDaniel. The pair surrendered just five hits, totaled 10 strikeouts and walked none.

Glick, a hard-luck 7-9 last season, had hoped for better run support in 2002. But when he left after losing his no-hitter in the seventh inning, the Palmdale, Calif., native had not yet seen a teammate cross the plate.

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That's because RedHawks starter Alex Lontayo, another southpaw, was nearly as sharp, scattering three hits over the first six innings.

"He'd been pitching down in Mexico and he was the pitcher most ready to pitch right now," Simunic said.

F-M, which has reached the playoffs in each of its previous six seasons, nailed down the victory with relief help from Joe Troilo, who earned the victory, and closer Steve Montgomery, who picked up the save.

"We pitched good tonight and our defense was good, which is not to take anything away from Glick, he pitched great," said Simunic. "We ran the bases pretty good, though, and we took advantage of a couple of miscues by them."

RedHawks catcher Kirk Pierce began the decisive eighth inning with a base hit. Jon Weber put down a sacrifice bunt that became even better when McDaniel's throw to first got away from first baseman Luis Raven. Pierce ended up at third base.

Brian Ward followed with an RBI single to plate the go-ahead run. The Hawks picked up an insurance run when a wild pitch by McDaniel let Ward trot home from third.

Glick carried a no-hitter in the seventh inning, but was chased from the game after three consecutive hits, including an RBI single from Matt Mann, a former North Dakota State standout.

Glick left after a Josh Patton single.

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The Explorers quickly got the run back in spite of a mishap on the bases. Raven's second hit of the night, a one-out double off the wall in left-center, set the table.

Cris Colon followed with a single, moving the tying run to third. Colon, acquired from the RedHawks in an off-season trade for reliever John Duffy, was thrown out attempting to get to second base.

Lontayo turned the slender lead over to Troilo, but the third pitch to Rich Rodrigues was in the dirt -- a wild pitch, permitting Raven to knot the score.

"It was kind of spring training still happening," Castillo said. "The pitchers really dominated tonight and we were kind of sloppy."

Sioux City would not score again, stranding two eighth-inning base runners, then surrendering their final four outs against the 6-8, 240-pound Montgomery.

"Montgomery doesn't get a lot of credit, but all he does is make pitches and save games," RedHawks pitching coach Jeff Bittiger said.

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