Larks Win in a Nail-Biter
The Bismarck Larks improved to 12-10 on the season after defeating the Rochester Honkers by a score of 6-3 in a nail-biter. The Larks put together one of their best all-around games this season which came all the way down to the final out. A trio of Larks were fantastic in the game, including starting pitcher Hunter Kloke, third baseman David Mendham and center fielder Wyatt Ulrich.
What’s Next: The Larks travel to Duluth, Minnesota to take on the Duluth Huskies on Tuesday June 18th. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35pm.
How It Happened: The Larks and Honkers were locked in a scoreless tie through the first five innings as starting pitcher for the Larks, Hunter Kloke was fantastic again in his second consecutive start. He continued to dominate opposing offenses while allowing just three hits through five innings and striking out six. Dwayne Marshall was just as good on the other side for the Honkers as he struck out seven Larks in five innings while allowing just two hits and no runs.
The Larks then broke through first in the top of the sixth when the Honkers turned to the bullpen. Wyatt Ulrich walked for the second time on the day before Cole Taylor walked to make it first and second with one out in the inning. The Larks then put the pressure on, Wyatt Ulrich stole third for his first stolen bag of three in the game before Brody Tanksley singled him in with one out to take the lead 1-0.
The Honkers answered back in the bottom of the sixth to get even though. Kloke struck out the first Honker before he hit back-to-back batters to end his outing. Gage Herring came in from the bullpen and gave up a single to load the bases before walking in a run. With the game tied, the bases loaded and one out, a ground ball double play turned the tide in the Larks favor. A slow roller up the first baseline was fielded next to the first base bag by Brian Leonhardt who touched first and threw home in one motion to cut down a runner at the plate to end the inning and keep the score at 1-1 through six innings.
The Larks capitalized on the momentum in the next half inning. With two outs, Wyatt Ulrich singled Cooper Bowman to third which set things up for David Mendham. Mendham unleashed his first hit of the game with a double into the left center field gap which scored both Larks to make it 3-1. Mendham picked up three RBI in his final two at-bats and had another multi-hit game but this was his biggest hit of the night.
Gage Herring then continued in the seventh inning and retired the first two batters he faced before getting into some trouble. With two outs, Herring allowed a single that was sandwiched between two walks. The last walk and pitch of his outing was a wild pitch that scored the second run of the game for the Honkers. Bradley Collins came in with first and third with two outs and induced a ground ball to second on the first pitch he threw to escape the jam and end the inning with the Larks still on top 3-2.
Herring’s second outing on the mound for the Larks was another good one as he got two of the biggest outs in the game coming on the double play ground ball to end the sixth inning.
The Larks then added three insurance runs in the last two innings including one in the 8th and two in the 9th. AJ DiFillipo singled for the second time in the game to drive in Brian Leonhardt from second base. The Larks were a bit lucky on the play as the throw from center field beat Leonhardt to the plate but an error on the catcher allowed Leonhardt to score and DiFillipo get to second base. The Larks then added two more crucial runs in the 9th, it started with Ulrich who’s walk turned into a “triple” after he stole second and third base. Mendham singled in Ulrich to make it 5-2 before Cole Taylor doubled off the top of the wall in right center which advanced Mendham to third base. With second and third and one out, Brody Tanksley drove in his second run of the game on a sacrifice fly scoring Mendham from third to complete the scoring for the Larks.
Bradley Collins stranded a runner on first in the 8th inning before picking up his first save of the season in the 9th. It wouldn’t come easy though for Collins, as he allowed the first run on a two-out single with a runner at second to make it 6-3. Then, a single and a hit by pitch loaded the bases with two outs for the Honkers. With the winning run at the plate, Tristian Peterson hit a first pitch fastball to the deepest part of left center field before Wyatt Ulrich saved the day catching the ball with a jump into the wall to end the game. The ball was inches away from winning the game for the Honkers but it was the Larks that escaped with the victory.
Collins has now put together three relief appearances in a row that have revealed his true colors. The Larks bullpen overall was good once again in the win. Gage Herring picked up the victory despite Hunter Kloke’s second consecutive quality start. Kloke has arguably been the Larks best arm this season and this game was no different.
Inside The Boxscore: David Mendham who has started in five straight games, picked up his third multi-hit game of the season. Mendham has seven RBI through his first five games as a Lark. Zack Gregory didn’t reach for the first time in a game all season long, his on-base streak ends at 21 games. Gregory is still second in Northwoods League in on-base percentage at .549. Hunter Kloke now has the 7th best ERA in the league at 1.59 and he is tied for 4th in total strikeouts with 24. Kloke is just three strikeouts from the top of the league and the league leader has thrown 8 2/3 more innings than Kloke. Wyatt Ulrich stole three bags in the game to up his total to 11 on the season which is the highest on the team and is tied for second in the Northwoods League. Ulrich still leads the league in runs scored with 28, he is also tied for the most RBI in the league with 20. Ulrich now has 18 walks on the year which is three behind teammate Zack Gregory who’s is tied atop the league. Ulrich is one of six Larks that have an on-base percentage of over .400 (Gregory, Chernow, Woeste, Ulrich, Mendham, Taylor).