Larks Look Back: Season 2
BISMARCK, ND– A season full of highs and lows, cheers and jeers, came to an end in Monday night’s first ever playoff game in Bismarck Larks history. The 25th year of Northwoods League summer baseball and just the 2nd for the Bismarck Larks saw smiling faces from opening day against Thunder Bay all the way till the last fan left the ballpark on the night of August 13, 2018.
We can’t believe it. Season 2 is in the books. We could NEVER have done it without you. THANK YOU fans!
Field Manager, Sean Repay started recruiting his team in 2017 in preparation for the 2018 summer and a round of applause for him and his coaching staff, DJ Engle, Brett DeGagne and Brett Lindsey is warranted. A lot of hard work went into assembling a roster that would be able to compete in the Northwoods League but Repay was up for the challenge. Entering his second year as field manager for the Larks he took the team to a place they had never been before.
On July 3, 2018 the Larks organization made history with a win over the St. Cloud Rox on the final day of the first half, the Larks finished with the second best record in the entire Northwoods League and the best in the North Division over the Duluth Huskies which guaranteed the Larks a spot in the playoffs at the end of the season. The 25-11 record in one half is going to be a tough one to beat for future Larks teams’ as they were able to finish the first half on a four game winning streak and winning nine of their last ten games.
Larks that played huge roles in the first half success were Jeff Lindgren, Carlos Lopez, Tristen Hudson, Parker Harm, Chase Coker, Colan Borchers and Cruz Daddario, but unfortunately for many different reasons these players weren’t able to continue the season with the Larks. Their contributions didn’t go unnoticed and they will forever be Larks.
As the season moved forward, the second half struggles continued with signs of light throughout. Hendry Rodriguez, Matt Warkentin, Mike Farnell, Ripken Reyes, and Cristian Montes were all selected to the 2018 All-Star team for the game played in Kalamazoo. Rodriguez was even given the ball to start on the mound for the North Division all-stars. Before the All-Star game, Warkentin and Farnell competed in the home run derby. In a setting with just six outs to work with, Warkentin got extremely close a few times but was never able to find his groove at the plate and Farnell was able to hit one home run which ended up being the furthest home run hit in the entire derby.
The first no hitter in Larks history was throw on July 29, 2019 by Matt Butler against the Eau Claire Express in a six inning game that was suspended due to weather. The game ended in a 0-0 tie and Butler struck out seven batters in a dominate pitching performance.
The next big event on the Larks schedule was the “Major League Showcase” where Warkentin, Farnell, Reyes and Montes were chosen to go and display their skills in front of Major League Baseball scouts. This was towards the end up the season and in the middle of a road trip where the Larks were taking on the Mankato MoonDogs in two games in three days.
Rodriguez and Montes were the only Larks selected to the post season All-Star team and after a very long season, it was well deserved.
At the end of the regular season the Larks had a 37-34-1 record before heading into the playoffs. The team leader in batting average was Montes with 52 hits in 153 at-bats which equaled out to .340. Warkentin was the leader in many offensive categories such as hits (88), doubles (16) in a three way tie, 54 runs batted in and home runs with 14 which was good for second best in the Northwoods League. Warkentin also played 71 of the 72 regular season game. Reyes was also a vital member of the team batting over .300 from the right and left side of the plate. He hit 16 doubles, four triples, scored 54 runs, and stole a team high 19 bases. On the pitching side, Rodriguez finished with a 5-4 record on the mound with 68 strikeouts in 63 innings and a 2.71 earned run average. He struck out nine batters in two different outings and struck out ten batters in a game against Waterloo. Chris Roycroft became the closer for the Larks towards the end of the season and he stepped in nicely pitching 12 innings, striking out 15 batters and earning two saves and a 3-0 record.
The season didn’t end the way the Larks wanted it to but after a memorable season, it was complete in the playoffs. Only eight out of 20 Northwoods League teams make the playoffs at the end of the season and with the Larks making it in their second season, it will be remembered forever.
Every game was streamed for fans to listen to on mixlr.com and when it was all said and done, the stream got over 12,000 total listens. A huge thank you to all of the friends and family members that became Larks fans and cheered them on near and far.
With the season being complete, the Larks organization takes the time to thank all of the fans that were able to come to Bismarck Municipal Ballpark Home of Dakota Community Bank and Trust Field and made it such an electric atmosphere for 37 home games. Best of luck to all of the players and coaches moving forward in their baseball careers.
Until next season…
The Bismarck Larks are a proud affiliate of the Northwoods League, the proven leader in development of elite college baseball players. The Larks mission is to use FUN to make a difference in the lives of our families, businesses, players, and communities we serve. This is accomplished with a commitment to putting fans first and providing high quality family entertainment at affordable prices. In 2017, the Larks sold out 27 of their 36 home games in Bismarck Municipal Ballpark, home of Dakota Community Bank and Trust Field, and were named the Northwoods League’s Organization of the Year.
The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. Entering its 25th anniversary season, the Northwoods 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, more than 190 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (TOR). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. For more information, visit www.northwoodsleague.com or download the Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play.