Larks win in dramatic fashion as they make a game-winning play at the plate to start their first winning streak.
BISMARCK, ND – Remember when the Larks had what seemed like a movie script ending almost every night at the beginning of the season? Well, in the Larks last game before they head out on an eight game road trip they felt it was best to make Bismarck feel like Hollywood once again.
The Bismarck Larks defeated the Willmar Stingers by a final score of 4-3 to record their first set of back-to-back wins on the 2017 inaugural campaign. However, just listing the final score doesn’t do the slightest bit of justice to this ballgame.
The series finale between the Larks (5-5) and the Stingers (5-5) got off to a fast start as three runs were scored between the two teams in the first inning of play.
The Stingers modeled a fast start when Quincy McAfee (Pepperdine University) drew a leadoff, four pitch walk and Marcus Still (New Mexico State University) launched a home run over the left field wall to grab an early 2-0 lead.
The Larks, as advertised throughout the first ten games of this season, would fight back to cut the lead in half. Wyatt Ulrich led off the bottom of the first inning with a single eventually making his way around the bases thanks to two wild pitches.
The two starters in this game would shake off the early runs and settle in.
Hayden Petrovick (San Diego State University) would end up throwing four and two-thirds innings of one hit baseball for the Stingers. The only hit Petrovick surrendered was the first inning leadoff single to Ulrich. The only blip on the radar for Petrovick was his command as he finished throwing 39 balls compared to 38 strikes.
Larks starter Frank Greco finished with a final line that included five innings, six hits allowed, and just two earned runs. Greco was able to wiggle his way out of jams as he was the culprit of stranding six Stingers baserunners.
The scoring would pick back up in the top of the sixth as the Stingers extended their lead off Larks reliever Parker Harm. Tyler Reichenborn (Iowa Western University), who finished 2-4, lined an RBI single to right field scoring Caleb Ledbetter (University of Montevallo) to make it a 3-1 ballgame.
It may sound like a broken record, but the Larks would fight right back in the bottom half.
In the bottom of the sixth inning the Larks would use three walks and two hits to score three runs taking their first lead of the game at 4-3. Mason Pierzchalski worked a bases-loaded walk to bring the Larks within one then Trever Leingang flared a single into right to drive home the game-tying and go-ahead runs.
This is where the game became fun as the latter innings called for high drama.
In the top of the seventh when Larks reliever Trenton Stoltz entered the game, the Stingers loaded the bases threatening to tie or even take the lead. Stoltz would get a force out at home with one out and received a defensive gem from third baseman Newt Johnson to get out of the inning and strand three Stingers baserunners.
In a 1-2-3 top of the eighth inning, Stoltz forced three groundouts as Luke Waldek made a few solid putouts from the shortstop position.
As the Stingers continued to shut down the Larks bats in the latter innings, the Stingers came up for the last at-bat trailing by the same score of 4-3. This is where the movie script ending comes into full effect.
Larks closer Jeff Lindgren recorded two quick outs in top of the ninth inning inching the birds of Bismarck that much closer to their first sweep of the 2017 season. Rob Emery (University of San Francisco) stepped up to hit as the Stingers last hope. He popped up a 1-0 pitch high into the Bismarck sky.
Spencer Gillund set his feet underneath the high pop up expecting to make the play he has made hundreds, maybe thousands of times in his career.
This time he prematurely squeezed the glove and the ball popped loose allowing Nolan Bumstead (CSU Northridge) a chance to hit.
With Myles Smith (Georgia Gwinnett College) pinch-running for Emery, Bumstead would make the most of the extra opportunity hitting a lined shot down into the left field corner. Smith took off racing around second and got the wave from his third base coach to hit third and head home.
This is where, undoubtedly, the play of the night happened. The play of the night just happened to end the game.
Larks left-fielder Wyatt Ulrich plucked the ball off the outfield grass, fired to the cutoff man Luke Waldek, who then fired to catcher Trever Leingang to tag the head-first sliding Myles Smith to record the final out of the ballgame.
That’s right. It was a walkoff tag at the plate that started the Larks first winning streak in team history.
The winning pitcher of the contest was Parker Harm (1-2). The losing pitcher of the contest was Stone Kelly (1-1). Jeff Lindgren (1) recorded his first save as a Lark.
The Larks head out for their longest road trip of the season as they will play eight games in eight days beginning with a matchup against the Eau Claire Express.
Make sure to tune in on mixlr.com/larksbaseball to listen to the live broadcast with the first set for 7:05pm.
# # #
The Bismarck Larks are apart of the proven leader in the development of 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, more than 170 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 website. For more information, visit www.northwoodsleague.com or download the Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play