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RedHawks outfielder Metzger has been a find for F-M early in the American Association season

Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks left fielder Brennan Metzger glances into the crowd Tuesday night at Newman Outdoor Field. Laurel Hoseth / Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks

FARGO—Brennan Metzger recruited himself to the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks this past offseason, and all he wanted was a chance.

"I was trying to sell myself to get myself back out here into this league," said Metzger, who played with Sonoma in the Pacific Association last season.

He's delivered.

Metzger is off to a strong start for the RedHawks, hitting near the top of the batting order and supplying solid outfield defense. Metzger batted second and played left field for F-M on Tuesday night against the Sioux Falls Canaries before 2,150 fans at Newman Outdoor Field. Canaries left-handed starter Joe Bircher pitched eight solid innings to lead Sioux Falls to a 5-3 victory in American Association baseball.

While Metzger went 0-for-4 against the Canaries with a strikeout, RedHawks manager Michael Schlact likes what he's seen from the 28-year-old, grew up in the San Diego area.

"The word gamer comes to mind," Schlact said. "He's somebody that goes 110 percent everything he does. In the box, in the outfield, you know what you're going to get."

Bircher limited the RedHawks to three runs on four hits, striking out five batters and walking two. He allowed two runs in the second inning and one in the eighth.

"You've got to tip your cap to Joe," Schlact said. "He made pitches when he needed to."

The RedHawks (6-5) carried a 2-1 lead into the seventh inning before the Canaries rallied into the lead for good. Two-run doubles from Chris Jacobs and Burt Reynolds in the top of the seventh gave Sioux Falls a 5-2 lead.

The RedHawks added a run in the eighth inning for the final margin.

Metzger previously played in the American Association for parts of the 2015 and 2016 seasons with the Gary SouthShore RailCats before spending last season with Sonoma. Earlier this spring, he was let go by a team in the Atlantic League so he was looking for a job.

Metzger then asked RedHawks infielder Derrick Fox for Schlact's contact information. Fox played with F-M last season before he finished the season in Sonoma where he was a teammate with Metzger.

"I sent him a text message and some video," Metzger said of contacting Schlact. "I needed somewhere to play. I remember it always being a good atmosphere here. I hit well here when I played here (with Gary.)"

Metzger has been the perfect fit in the No. 2 spot in the batting order, batting .357 with a .550 on-base percentage through the first eight games. He had the game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth inning in F-M's 3-2 victory against Sioux Falls on Monday night.

"He's a firecracker," Schlact said. "He's a table setter. He finds a way to get the bat on the ball."

Schlact said Metzger has also delivered on defense, using his speed to cover ground in left field, especially at Newman Outdoor Field.

"Not everybody can play left field here. It's spacious," Schlact said. "He's got some good angles to the baseball. He can get there with that speed and the arm helps, too."

Metzger, 28, was a multiple-sport athlete at Mission Hills High School in San Marcos, Calif., before he played college baseball at Long Beach State. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Metzger also considered playing Division I football coming out of high school.

The San Francisco Giants drafted Metzger in the 22nd round of the 2012 Major League Baseball draft after his career at Long Beach State.

Metzger said it was always his dream to be a professional baseball player and he relishes being a productive player both in the field and at the plate.

"For me, playing defense and getting to run balls down in the outfield is my favorite to do. I get to use my speed, athleticism. I get to be free out there and run around," Metzger said. "I try to pride myself on being a tough out. I'm not going to be a free out for anybody. I'm going to make pitchers work."

Eric Peterson
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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