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Larks Overcome Adversity For 7-6 Win Over Rox

Larks bounce back to defeat the Rox despite having a banged-up lineup

BISMARCK, ND – Coming into the game, the Larks were just 1-3 in the second half of the season. Playing the first-half North Division champion St. Cloud Rox, the odds did not appear to be in the Larks’ favor.

Don’t tell them the stinking odds.

The Bismarck Larks defeated the St. Cloud Rox by a final score of 7-6 on Sunday evening to earn their second win of the second half.

This game did not get off to the kind of start the Larks were hoping for.

St. Cloud jumped out to an early 2-0 lead because of a Shane Selman RBI single and a Larks error. Newt Johnson tried to nab Brendan Illies at second after a throw came in from the outfield, but an errant throw went sailing into shallow left field.

More offense continued foreshadowing the 13 total runs that would cross in this game as Scooter Bynum cut the lead in half for the Larks with a bases loaded RBI single.

Northwoods League All-Star and Larks starter Tyler Steele showed why he was voted to go participate in the festivities in Wausau, WI by shutting down the Rox offense for the next four innings. He allowed just two hits in that span and saw the Larks offense post three more runs of support.

All three of those runs came in the bottom of the second inning starting with Ryan Anderson as he ambushed Rox starter Carlo Graffeo for his second home run of the year. The solo shot tied the game at two, but Austin Paschke put the Larks ahead with a two-run double scoring Cooper Coldiron and Mitch Gallagher.

The game remained 4-2 in favor of the Larks until the top of the sixth inning when the Rox started to flex their first-half division-title muscles.

Jamie Kaye was brought out of the Larks bullpen after Steele walked the first two batters he faced. The Rox would tie the game because of a high throw from Johnson on an attempted sacrifice bunt and a bases loaded walk.

This game would not be tied for long.

The Larks responded with a three-run bottom of the sixth inning to grant themselves their largest advantage of the ballgame. Paschke delivered another two RBI hit, this time a single, and Noah Sadler cashed in a run with a sacrifice fly to center field.

With the score at 7-4, the Rox chipped away at the lead in hopes of yet another comeback.

After Kaye walked the first two batters of the top of the seventh inning, Illies laid down a sacrifice bunt to put Michael Busch and Selman on second and third respectively. Angelo Altavilla drove in a run on an RBI groundout and could have drove in two runs if it wasn’t for Gallagher’s diving stop in the 4-3 hole. The defensive gem maintained a 7-5 lead for the Larks.

The Larks would need another defensive gem to win this ballgame.

Enter Sandman, also known as Damian Melis.

Melis entered into the contest in the top of the second inning after original starting catcher Luke Horanski had to be taken out because of an illness. Quinn Irey was not available due to taking a ball off his hand in yesterday’s loss to Thunder Bay. Melis hadn’t logged not a single inning behind the dish throughout the entire 2017 Northwoods League season.

Fast forward to the top of the eighth inning after Rox All-Star Drew Avans worked a two-out walk and a stole second base for his 19th stolen bag of the year. Melis might have allowed number 19 on his watch, but he wasn’t about to allow number 20.

Avans took off for third in hopes of putting himself 90 feet away from home, but Melis delivered a one-hop throw right to Johnson at third to catch Avans stealing for the third out of the inning.

This play proved to be pivotal because the Rox got a ninth inning, two-out solo shot from Selman off Kaye to make it a 7-6 ballgame.

Kaye would give up a single to Illies following the homer forcing the Larks to turn to Zach Walz to get the final out. Walz would shut the door striking out Altavilla to end the game.

At a potential turning point in this season the Larks showed grit. With a banged up lineup, they defeated the St. Cloud Rox for the first time in team’s history giving themselves a chance to win back-to-back games tomorrow for the first time since June 22nd.

The final line for Steele in his first performance since being named an NWL All-Star included five plus innings of work allowing four runs (1 ER) on five hits with three strikeouts.

David Manasek will take the ball tomorrow as the Larks look to grab their sweep of the second half.

First pitch from The Nest 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