WILLMAR, MN – The Bismarck Larks went through quite a mental rollercoaster over the last two days.

The Larks played in Willmar, MN Tuesday night against the Stingers. The Stingers jumped on them quickly and ultimately won the game 7-2, but the Larks may not have had their minds in the right places.

Due to a rule violation, the Larks were informed on Tuesday afternoon that their 7-4 win on Monday versus the La Crosse Loggers would be forfeited. The win moved the Larks to 14-14, but after the forfeit, they moved to 13-15.

Ryan Byrd pitched two innings Monday night in relief on two days of rest after his start in Mankato on Friday. In that start, Byrd threw 86 pitches, and according to Northwoods League rules, a pitcher who throws 85 pitches or more must have four full days of rest before appearing in a game again.

As a result, the Larks forfeited the game they won versus the Loggers and instead took a loss. Field Manager Sean Repay took the full blame for the violation, and said the coaching staff did not think about the pitch count rule until after the game. Repay said the violation was completely unintentional, and the staff will be more aware of these situations in the future.

So, the Larks started the day at .500, but by game time, they were two games off the pace of that mark. As you can imagine, the team wasn’t thrilled with the news, and their heads may not have been in the right place before the game.

The Stingers set the tone early when they came out of the gates with four runs in the first inning on four hits off of Larks starter Tyler Steele. The last time Steele faced this Stingers team, he went eight innings and was named Northwoods League Pitcher of the Night.

After the rough start, Steele settled down and kept the Larks within striking distance.

Bismarck got one run back in the third when Quinn Irey scored on an RBI groundout from Connor Perry.  

Steele allowed one more run to cross in the 5th when Danny Rodriguez singled home Nolan Bumstead to make the score 5-1.

Connon Hilburn relieved Steele in the 6th. Steele finished after five innings with five runs (four earned), eight hits, two walks, and two strikeouts.

In the 6th, Eli Wilson and Tyler Reichenborn eached scored an unearned run after the Larks committed an error and allowed a couple of passed balls. After six, the Stingers led 7-1.

The Larks would add one more run in the 8th when Luke Waldek scored on a Scooter Bynum RBI fielder’s choice. Unfortunately, the hot start was too much for the Larks to overcome as they fell to the Stingers for the first time this season by a score of 7-2.

Stingers starter Gus Varland was the winning pitcher. Varland went six innings while allowing just one unearned run on four hits, two walks, and six strikeouts.

It was a tough day for the Larks from start to finish. When they woke up, they were .500. By night’s end, they were three games off the pace. If you’ve been following this team all season, you won’t be surprised if the Larks come out ready to get back in the win column tomorrow.

They’ll be back at it tomorrow when they take on the Stingers (15-14) again in Willmar for the final game of the six game road trip. First pitch is set for 7:05pm.

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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

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