Larks give up ninth inning lead for second time in last two days en route to third loss in last four games
BISMARCK, ND – Close games aren’t a foreign concept to the Larks and the Stingers when they meet on a baseball diamond. This would stay true when the two teams met for the eighth and final time on the 2017 season.
However, contrary to prior success, the Bismarck Larks were defeated by the Willmar Stingers by a final score of 5-4 in the Fourth of July day game at The Nest.
The Larks (16-20) were in search of their seventh win against the Stingers (19-17) as they sported a 6-1 record against the Stingers coming into the contest. Five out of those six victories were won by a winning margin of three runs or less.
The Larks would find themselves in the midst of a close contest once again.
Scoring commenced in the top of the first inning when the Stingers manufactured a run. After a leadoff single, Marcus Still moved up to second on his 25th stolen base of the year and was later sacrificed to third on a bunt by Josh Bissonette. Nolan Bumstead would complete the manufacturing with an RBI groundout scoring Still making it 1-0 after a half inning of play.
On the other side, the Larks would get on the board in the bottom of the second inning thanks to a two RBI double from Luke Horanski scoring Noah Sadler and Newt Johnson. This served as Bismarck’s first lead of the ballgame at 2-1.
But in the very next inning the Stingers responded with Still’s solo home run to left-center field tying the game at 2-2. Still now has two home runs on the season both coming at Bismarck Municipal Ballpark.
The Stingers added on a run in the fourth due to a bases loaded walk by Tyler Murray and Larks starter David Manasek’s day was done. In his first start of the season Manasek lasted four innings giving up three earned runs while issuing four walks.
With the score at 3-2 headed into the bottom of the sixth inning, the Larks would regain the lead for the second time in the ballgame. Sadler delivered an RBI single scoring Mitch Gallagher to tie the game.
After Sadler stole both second and third, Scooter Bynum pushed one through the drawn-in infield for his team-leading 21st RBI giving the Larks the lead at 4-3.
This would be the score all the way up until the top of the ninth inning due in part to three innings of scoreless relief from JC Bonilla. In his ninth appearance of the year, Bonilla pitched three innings allowing no hits and walking three batters.
The eighth inning duty was handed to usual starting pitcher Andy Lalonde because he only threw one inning back on July 1 against Mankato.
Lalonde struck out Caleb Ledbetter and Tyler Reichenborn in the top of the eighth inning to leave the bases loaded and preserve the one run Larks advantage.
Unfortunately, Lalonde couldn’t do the same in the top of the ninth inning.
Still got things started by recording his third hit of the day with a leadoff line-drive single to center field. Luke Becker proceeded with a sacrifice bunt and Bissonette delivered the game-tying RBI single into right field.
After Lalonde got the third out of the top of the ninth inning not allowing another run to score, the Larks were headed to their first extra inning game of the season.
In the bottom of the 10th inning the Larks were in a prime spot to record their fourth walk off win of the year with runners on first and third and two outs. Bynum was the Larks hitter presented with the opportunity, but could not convert as he grounded out to end the threat.
The top of the eleventh inning featured another lead change. This time in favor of the Stingers.
Pinch runner Myles Smith was brought home on a Becker RBI single off Carson Selin giving the Stingers a 5-4 lead over the Larks.
The Larks did not go down quietly in the bottom of the eleventh though. The Larks would put runners on second and third with one out, but Cooper Coldiron struck out swinging and Connor Perry grounded out to second to end the game.
The extra-inning loss resulted in a split with the Stingers and pushed the Larks to 3-7 in their last 10 games. In the first half of the season, as this was game number 36, the Larks finished four games below .500 at 16-20.
The Larks kick off the second half of the season in Duluth with a two game set against the Huskies before returning home for a four-game homestand.
First pitch from Wade Stadium in Duluth, MN is set for 6:35pm.
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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