Walk Off Win Caps Inaugural Season for the Larks
BISMARCK, ND – The Hollywood ending that was Opening Night had a sequel.
The Bismarck Larks walked off the La Crosse Loggers with a 1-0 win in the season finale of the 2017 inaugural campaign.
On May 30th, 2017, the Larks established a flare for the dramatic with a 2-1 walk off victory over the Eau Claire Express in their first ever game as a member of the Northwoods League.
Fast forward 75 days later to August 13th, 2017 where the Larks (15-21, 31-40) capped off their inaugural season the way they started it.
In an ironic, yet seemingly fitting way, this ballgame had a similar feel to the home opener. That similar feel had a lot to do with dominant pitching.
Instead of the Opening Night starters in Ryan Byrd and Ethan Nichols, this time it was Jamie Kaye and Jason Seever.
In Kaye’s fourth start a Lark and Seever’s fifth start as a Logger, both of them went out on top producing their best start of the season.
Seever finished with eight innings of shutout baseball as he struck out seven, walked just one batter, and allowed only four hits. The southpaw out of Castro Valley, CA stifled the Larks all day long facing just four batters over the minimum.
The Larks offense came up empty handed in their three run-scoring opportunities off of Seever.
In the bottom of the first inning, Ryan Anderson lined out to the shortstop after Scooter Bynum doubled with two outs. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Luke Horanski grounded into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play following back-to-back singles from Bynum and Anderson. And in the bottom of the eighth inning, Jeff Mayes flew out to right field with Brandon Lankford standing on third base.
Seever left the ballgame after retiring Mayes having thrown 110 pitches on the day.
As for Kaye, he topped his counterpart by an inning of work.
Kaye pitched the first complete game in Larks history and it just so happened to be a complete game shutout. The Bloomington, MN native allowed six hits and issued two walks while striking out six Loggers hitters.
Although Kaye was able to pitch deeper into the ballgame, he had to wiggle out of more jams than Seever did on this day.
In the top of the third inning, Kaye erased a single and a stolen base from Dashon Moore with a strikeout of Adam Klos and a groundout of Kennie Taylor. In the top of the fourth inning, Kaye ended a second consecutive threat by inducing back-to-back flyouts after allowing back-to-back singles. And in the top of the seventh inning, Kaye got Moore to ground in a 6-4-3 double play that washed away another pair of singles within the inning.
Kaye’s ability to wiggle out of a jam was tested was once more in the top of the eighth inning.
This is when Larks shortstop Jeff Mayes became Kaye’s best friend.
After the Loggers loaded the bases with a hit and two walks, Kaye fired a 2-2 fastball to Garrett Christman. Christman lined the pitch right back up the middle with reservations for a couple of Loggers runs.
Mayes and his glove had other plans.
With a full-on dive, Mayes snagged the sharply hit ball out of thin air and kept the Loggers off of the board. The potential defensive play of the season sent The Nest into a craze and cemented the feeling that it was only a matter of time before the Larks won this ballgame.
After a quick top of the ninth inning from Kaye that included another defensive gem, this time from Lankford at third base, Horanski stepped up to the plate to face Loggers reliever Cody Ebert with Bynum standing just 90 feet away.
With two outs and a 2-1 count, Horanski dropped a ball into left field scoring Bynum, awarding the Larks an impressive 1-0 victory.
A fourth walk off of the season served as the Larks 31st victory on the 2017 campaign. The Larks ended the season on a good note with a three-game winning streak.
The three straight wins propelled the team to finish tied for sixth throughout the North Division in the overall standings.
The walk off win in game 72 left the Bismarck faithful excited for what’s to come.
And just like that, the inaugural season for the Birds of Bismarck is complete.
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The Bismarck Larks are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The 23-year-old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, 180 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champion Ben Zobrist (CHC) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM) and Lucas Duda (NYM). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.bismarcklarks.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Larks as your favorite team.