Larks Stay in Playoff Contention

The Bismarck Larks defeated the Rochester Honkers by a score of 1-0 to complete the sweep of the two-game series. Today’s game was Presented by BNC National Bank. With their backs against the wall in the division race the Larks have responded by winning two in a row. The Larks scored their lone run in the 4th inning and a dominant pitching effort by Alex Lord and Dominic Arias shut out the Honkers. Despite scoring just one run, the Larks had 10 hits in the contest keeping their bats hot heading into the final two games of the first half against Willmar. 

What’s Next: The Larks will hit the road to play the Willmar Stingers in a two-game series starting July 1 at 7:05 pm. The Larks hope to sweep Willmar to claim the Northwoods League Great Plains West Division first half championship. It will be a close race to the top between the Larks, the Stingers and the St. Cloud Rox as it will all come down to the last few games of the first half.  

How It Happened: Alex Lord’s debut start on the hill for the Larks was a great start to the game as he stranded a runner in scoring position in the 1st inning. In the 2nd inning, the Honkers had second and third with nobody out. Lord then struck out Aaron Simmons for the first out before walking the bases loaded. With one out and three Honkers on base, Jack Chernow made a run-saving diving catch for the second out of the inning before a ground out stranded all three runners who reached in the inning. Lord then finished his outing with his best inning of his debut with a third consecutive scoreless frame.

Dominic Arias then came in out of the bullpen and was dominant against the Honkers. Arias struggled in his first inning of relief allowing two of the first three Honkers aboard on walks to start the 4th. With first and second and one out Ty Condel made a beautiful catch on the run in deep right center to take away extra bases for the second out as the runner on second base tagged up and advanced to third. Another fine defensive play ended the two-out threat as Cooper Bowman made a spectacular diving catch taking away a hit from the Honkers and keeping the game scoreless.

The Larks carried that defensive momentum and brought it with them to the plate in the bottom half of the 4th. Wyatt Ulrich lead off the inning with a single up the middle before the Larks executed the hit-and-run to perfection as AJ DiFillipo singled through the left side advancing Ulrich to third as he got a head start running on the pitch. Ty Condel then grounded into a double play but Ulrich scored for the 40th time of the season to take the 1-0 lead for the Larks.

The Larks threatened in the 6th inning and 7th innings but were thrown out at the plate twice by right fielder Zack Zalesky who cut down Wyatt Ulrich and Damon Lux who were both trying to score from second base on singles. Both teams were fantastic defensively in the game keeping it close the whole contest.

Arias had back-to-back near perfect innings in the 5th and 6th before a lead off single from Kyler McMahan started the 7th inning. Arias then picked off the runner at first before getting a pop up on the next pitch to force the first two outs of the inning. With nobody on and two outs, Arias then struck out Tristian Peterson looking to end the inning as he gave a big fist pump walking off the mound.

The Honkers then led off the 8th inning with a double before another huge defensive play kept the Honkers off the board. A deep fly ball to straight away center field started a crucial double play as Ty Condel unleashed a laser throw to cut down the runner trying to tag from second base. Arias then forced a fly out to deep right center field to end the inning and protect the 1-run lead for the Larks.

Dominic Arias then finished it off in the 9th inning picking up his first save of the season. After allowing a lead off walk in the inning, Arias then retired the next three on ground outs to end the game, the final ground out came with a runner at third base with two outs. Arias has now thrown 10 innings in relief and has allowed just 1 earned run while striking out 9 batters and allowing only 5 hits in relief.

Inside the Box Score: Wyatt Ulrich added to his individual totals at the plate today. He remains 1st in runs in the entire Northwoods League as he scored his 40th of the year in the game. Ulrich also remains in the top 5 in the Northwoods League for hits as he raised his total to 40 today after going 3-4 with two doubles and a single. 

The Larks as a team are also atop the Northwoods League in multiple categories at the plate. They lead the league in both RBI with 199 and runs with 145. They are also in second place in the Northwoods League in hits with 322. The team has showed this series just how well they can produce at the plate. The Larks will need to continue this in order to take the Northwoods League Great Plains West division first half championship.