Another ring for "The Franchise"
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September 18, 2006 - Former RiverHawk Rich Austin is on a pennant winner for the second time in three years.
Austin hit a solo home run in the second inning in Game 4 of the Northern League finals on Saturday. Austin’s Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks won, 1-0, to beat the Gary Railcats and former teammate Jason Shelley, three games to one.
Shelley, who played for Rockford in 2002 and 2003, is East Division champion Gary's pitching ace. Austin, who played with the franchise in its final year in Springfield, 2001, and played the first three years it was in Rockford, is a two-time Northern League all-star with West champ Fargo-Moorhead.
Shelley was 12-8, second in the league in wins, with a 3.75 ERA. He struck out 145, tops in the Northern League and Shelley's best total since he set a Frontier League record with 156 strikeouts in 2002. Shelley was named Baseball America magazine's Independent League Player of the Year in 2003, when he set the FL earned-run average record and was signed by Milwaukee at midseason.
This year, Austin hit .296 with 13 home runs and 69 RBI, third in the Northern League. He was voted Frontier League MVP at the end of the RiverHawks' championship season in 2004.


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