The Bismarck Larks struggled to get anything going offensively Wednesday, falling to the St. Cloud Rox 7-0 in the first game of a two-game series.
With the win, the Rox (22-6) clinched the first-half title for the Great Plains West Division. Second half play begins on July 6.
Fans at the game — a sellout crowd of 1,950 Larks fans — celebrated Win-It Wednesday, presented by Caves.
Larks starting pitcher Luke Hempel (CSU-San Bernardino) blanked the Rox through four innings, striking out five. Lark of the Homestand Julio Romero (Waubonsee CC) came in relief and allowed three runs which gave St. Cloud their first lead and only lead as they held on the rest of the game.
In relief, Ryan Curran (Montevallo) earned the Metro Area Ambulance Fastest Pitch of the night with an 89 mph fastball in his one inning of work.
Rox starter Joseph Battaglia (Southern University and A&M College) improved to 3-1 on the year, going six strong innings and striking out four Larks.
Khalid Collymore (Montevallo) continued his strong season at the plate getting on base, going 1-for-2 with a single and a hit by pitch. The Larks left six runners on base.
Trevor Austin (Mercer Univ.) collected 3 RBI in the win for the Rox, while Brice Matthews (Nebraska) collected three hits from the lead-off spot — including the first at-bat of the game.
A smooth 6-4-3 double play by Adam Axtell (Point Loma Nazarene) and Bradlee Preap (Radford) in the top of the sixth inning held the Rox to just two runs in the inning and earned them the Fetzer Electric Play of the Game.
Bismarck is back in action for the finale against the Rox Thursday, starting at 6:35 PM. Thursday’s game is presented by Cool 98.7 & 96.5 The Walleye (Townsquare). Catch the game on the Northwoods League Network.