Bats stifled again by Waterloo starting pitching
BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck bats haven’t caught fire in a few games, and Monday night was no different.
The Larks were bested by the Waterloo Bucks by a score of 2-1. The loss is the third in a row for Bismarck after winning each of the four games previous.
Jeff Lindgren was scheduled to start for the Larks, but a sore elbow kept him from going. Instead, the Larks turned to yet another relief pitcher to make an emergency start.
Jamie Kaye made his first start of the season and did exactly what his team needed him to do. He threw strikes. Lots of strikes.
In the game, Kaye threw 91 total pitches, and 65 of them were over the plate. For a Larks team that has struggled to find the zone at times, Kaye’s strike-to-ball ratio of 2.5:1 was nothing short of impressive.
Kaye ran into trouble in the second inning when the Bucks managed four hits off of him and pushed two runs across to take an early 2-0 lead. John Cable had an RBI single and Dalton Hurd an RBI double.
Waterloo starter Zach Patterson was just as Kaye. He threw 94 pitches in the contest, and 62 of them went for strikes.
The Larks threatened to get to Patterson in the fifth when Cooper Coldiron and Connor Perry each drew two-out walks, but Patterson struck out Luke Waldek to end the inning.
In the seventh inning, the Larks had another chance to get on on the scoreboard. After a Luke Horanski double, he moved up to third on a Wyatt Ulrich 4-3 groundout.
Patterson was pulled after facing Ulrich as he gave way to Caleb Miley. Miley would get Coldiron to fly out to center field to get the Bucks out of the inning unscathed.
Patterson finished his day after 6.2 innings. He allowed just four hits and three walks while striking out five in his scoreless outing.
Kaye was finished after seven solid innings in his first start of the season. Kaye allowed eight hits but just two earned runs in the game. He struck out three and only issued a single walk.
JC Bonilla relieved Kaye in 8th inning. Bonilla has been seeing more action in close games as the season winds down, and he showed everyone why as he shut the Bucks down in order in the eighth.
For the first out of the inning, Brandon Gutzler lined a ball right back at Bonilla, but Bonilla somehow managed to get his glove in front of his torso and knock the ball down. After flipping the ball to Ryan Anderson at first, Bonilla immediately motioned to the dugout to signal that he was okay, a good sight to see after a potentially scary moment.
Zach Walz pitched the ninth inning for the Larks, and he too worked a clean inning to keep the Larks in striking distance.
In the bottom half, the Larks made it interesting.
After getting the Larks down in order in the eighth, Ryan Dunne struggled to control the ninth. He struck out Anderson to start the inning, and also got Scooter Bynum swinging, but Bynum reach first after strike three got away from the catcher Cable.
Dunne struck out Noah Sadler, but then walked Horanski and Ulrich to load the bases. With the tying run at second and the winning run at first, Coldiron chopped a ball over Dunne’s head.
Second baseman Drew Greenwood fielded the ball but had no chance to get Coldiron at first. All runners advanced and Bynum scored to make it 2-1.
Next up was Connor Perry, who hit a hard ground ball towards the middle of the diamond, but shortstop Grant Hawkins ranged to his left and flipped to Greenwood at second to end the game and finish off a 2-1 victory for the Bucks.
Dunne’s save preserved the win for starter Patterson. Kaye took a tough loss after pitching deep into a game he was not expected to start.
The 2-1 loss marks the second time this season the Bucks have narrowly edged the Larks in a pitchers duel. In game one of a double-header on June 13, Kyle Leahy threw a complete game in Waterloo to beat the Larks 2-1. Larks starter Andy Lalonde threw seven innings and allowed just three hits, but came up on the losing end.
As of late, the Larks pitching staff has been holding their own. In the last 11 games, the opposing team has scored four runs or more just 3 times (not including the two games this weekend against the red-hot Eau Claire Express, which we consider outliers).
In that span, the offense hasn’t given the staff much run support as the team has scored more than four runs just twice in those 11 games. The offense will have to ramp things up and find a groove if they want to get back in the win column.
The Larks (8-9) have now lost three straight after tying their season-high with a four-game win streak. The first time they won four in a row, they lost their next four. The Larks have to win Tuesday night to keep that trend from repeating itself.
Game two versus Waterloo (7-10) is set for 7:05 pm tomorrow night, Tuesday July 25.
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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.