Coming off of a four-game losing streak at home, the Bismarck Larks, sitting at 2-4 in the second half, traveled to Rochester, Mankato, Eau Claire, and Minot for a seven-game road trip.
In the first series of the road trip, the Larks traveled to Rochester to take on the Honkers for the battle of the birds, where they were swept in the two-game series and outscored 16-7.
In game one of the series, the Honkers used a quality start from starter Cole Mahlum (Dakota County Technical College), who got the win and went six innings of one-run baseball, giving up five hits. Rochester also scored five runs in the second inning to knock out Larks starter Andrew Hansen (Fort Hays State). The Honkers scored multiple runs in the fourth and fifth to add to the lead. The scoring was highlighted by a Nico Regio (Charleston Southern) three-run homer. Although the yellow birds put together five runs of their own in the eighth and the ninth, with Jack Herring (Rollins) going yard, Bismarck gave up another two runs in the bottom of the eighth and drop the first game of the series 12-6. Three different Honkers had multi-RBI nights.
Game two was a much closer affair, but Rochester got another great start from their pitcher, as right-hander Daniel Willie (Montreat College) went seven scoreless and only allowed three runs to pick up his second win.
The game was scoreless going into the bottom of the fourth, and that’s where the Honkers struck, putting up three runs on the board, the latter two courtesy of a Tyler White (Sacramento State) two-run single with two outs to put the Honkers up 3-0. That’s all Rochester needed, as the bullpen shut the door. Despite the Larks putting up a run thanks to an error in the eighth, Bismarck would be limited to four hits on the night, and the Honkers swept the first two-game series of the summer, winning game two 4-1.
After the series in Rochester, the now 2-6 Larks would continue their road trip in Minnesota, traveling an hour and a half west to Mankato for a doubleheader against the MoonDogs, who were already 5-1 in head-to-head matchups against Bismarck. Like the series prior, the Larks would be swept.
In game one, with the bullpen running paper thin, manager Will Flynt called upon usual catcher Sam Bieser (North Greenville) to start on the hill. Bieser did his job, going three innings and giving up three runs, one of them being a three-run homer to the MoonDogs’ hottest hitter, Brendan Hord (Evansville), in the first. That’s all the offense Mankato would need, although the orange and black put up another five runs in the fourth, headlined by a Max Williams (Florida State) two-RBI base knock.
Mankato starter Beck Bradshaw (Tarleton State) took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, which was broken up by Dillon Goetz (Skyline), finishing going six scoreless and only giving up one hit. Jalen Martinez (Ball State) then came in and got a three-inning save to secure a 10-1 Mankato win in game one.
Game two was a much closer contest, but the Larks would once again fall. Mankato sent out the staff ace Kolby Kiser (Southwest Minnesota State), and he did not disappoint, striking out seven and only giving up one run in five complete innings of work.
The scoring started in the second for the MoonDogs. Jake Duer (TCU) hit an RBI single, and then another run was scored after a two-base error from the Bismarck left fielder to make it 2-0. In the third, Dustin Krennshaw (Grand Canyon) doubled to make it 3-0.
The Larks would respond in the top of the fourth with Jackson Beaman (Mizzou scoring on a wild pitch, but that’s the only offense Bismarck would get, as Mankato added on one more in the seventh and eighth to secure the doubleheader sweep and move to 7-1 against the Larks this summer. Ty Howry (Cisco) picked up his third loss of the year on the bump.
After back-to-back sweeps, the Larks, now at 2-8 in the second half and losers of eight straight, were hungry for some offense. After traveling to Eau Claire to face the Express for a new two-game set, they got just that, taking game one of the series, which was an offensive shootout.
The game saw 39 runs scored between the teams combined, but it would be Bismarck to finish on top by a final of 21-18. The Larks led by as much as 11 runs at one point, and the offense was sparked by a two-homer day from Jack Herring and a 5-6 effort from Dante Leach (Tennessee Wesleyan).
The game, however, got dicey in the bottom of the ninth for Bismarck. The Larks were up 21-13 and needed just three more outs, but the Express scored five straight, prompting Ryan Taylor (Dallas – Richland) to come in with two outs and shut the door. The Larks and Express would combine for seven total home runs, as the Larks won for the first time in seven days to move to 3-8 in the second half.
However, in game two, the Express were able to use a come-from-behind effort late to steal a series split. The Larks scored four in the first to jump out to an early lead and led from then on all the way until the ninth inning, where the Larks were up 8-5, and Ryan Taylor came in for the save. However, Taylor let up three runs, as D.J. Massey (Central Arizona) hit a two-out two-RBI double to keep the Express alive, sending the game to extras.
In the top of the tenth, Robbie Harrison (Capital) collected his first RBI of the season, and it was a big one, as it gave the Larks a 9-8 lead. But, in the bottom half, Harrison would commit the game-deciding error behind the plate, as the Larks would give up two runs and get walked off by the Express, 10-9. The heartbreaker would drop the Larks to 3-9 in the second half.
To close out the road trip, the Larks would open up a home-and-home series with the Minot Hot Tots, where they would fall in another offensive slugfest. Both teams combined for 36 runs, as the Larks would fall 19-13.
Although the Larks were defeated, they got valiant efforts from Nick Oakley (UC Santa Barbara) and Jackson Beaman. Oakley went 5-5 and reached base six times in his return to the lineup while finishing a home run shy of the cycle. Beaman hit two three-run homers and had a six RBI night. Jack Herring also hit his fourth homer on the road trip.
The Hot Tots would hit four homers of their own, as Jake Schulz (Concordia-Irvine) hit two. Seven players in the Hot Tot lineup had multi-RBI nights.
However, because of a potential pitch count violation on the Hot Tots, this game could be disqualified, with Minot receiving the loss and Bismarck not being affected. We will have more information when it becomes available.
The Larks are back home for the series finale against the Hit Tots on Sunday at 5:35 pm CT. It also is Art at the Park Night, presented by KFYRTV. Join us to celebrate local Bismarck-Mandan artists with our very own art gallery at the ballpark. PLUS, enjoy face painting and additional festivities throughout the night.