Before heading home, Steele dazzles home crowd one last time

BISMARCK, ND – That’s how you finish off a game, and a season.

Tyler Steele throws the final half of the ballgame for the Larks and caps off an impressive 6-3 victory over the Rochester Honkers. Steele’s outing concludes a phenomenal individual season for him, as he will be leaving the team to report back to Vanguard.

Steele and the Larks have not been playing their best baseball as the season winds down, and they’re aware of that. They’re now playing for pride, and their effort on Friday night demonstrated that.

The Larks turned to starter Carson Selin as they looked to get back on track.

Selin answered the call and retired nine of the first 10 hitters he saw, facing just one over the minimum through the first three innings.

This gave the Larks a chance to get on the board first. They did so in the bottom of the second inning when Luke Horanski brought Noah Sadler home on a double to left field. Horanski would score later in the inning on a Jeff Mayes sacrifice fly to put the Larks up 2-0.

The Honkers got to Selin in the top of the fourth when Morgan McCullough walked to lead off the inning. He scored two batters later on a Ryan Fitzpatrick single to cut the lead in half.

In the fifth, Selin walked the leadoff man, and again that runner would come around to score. This time, it was Michael Michalak that drew the free pass, and eventually scored on an RBI single from Weston Hatten.

Hatten scored on the very next pitch when McCullough doubled down the left field line, putting the Honkers in front 3-2.

Steele came on to retire the left-handed Konnor Zickefoose for the third out of the inning and keep the Larks within one. Selin finished after 4.2 innings in which he allowed four hits, three earned runs, and four walks.

The Larks did not fold. In the bottom half, Scooter Bynum laced a one-out double to left field and scored on Ryan Anderson’s RBI single, one of his four hits, to tie things back up at 3-3. Anderson’s single one-hopped the left field wall, but he was thrown out trying to reach second for a double.

The Birds wasted no time getting the lead back. Spencer Gillund reached via a one-out single, and he came home two batters later on Collin Einertson’s RBI double to deep right field. The Larks went up 4-3, and Steele went to work.

After retiring Zickefoose in the fifth, Steele cruised through innings six, seven, and eight. In that time, he allowed just two base runners on an error and a two-out single.

Bynum added some insurance runs with a two-out, two-RBI single in the bottom of the eighth. scoring Horanski and Mayes to make it 6-3. The way Steele was throwing, those insurance runs didn’t appear to be necessary.

It sure was nice to have the insurance, though.

Steele hit a rough patch in the ninth, but per the usual, he battled.

Steele walked Ethan Ibarra with one out, then got Hatten to ground into a 4-6 fielder’s choice for the second out. After a McCullough single, Zach Zubia, the Northwoods League leader in home runs (20), stepped to the plate as the tying run.

Zubia drew a five pitch walk, which allowed the potential go-ahead run to come to the plate. Despite the drama, Steele would get Fitzpatrick to fly out to left field and end the game.

Steele’s efforts earned him the win. In 4.1 innings, he allowed just two hits, no runs, recorded four strikeouts, and made the play of the night on an attempted push bunt from McCullough. Steele dove to his left to knock the ball down, then scrambled to the ball on his hands and knees before shoveling the ball to Anderson at first for the second out of the seventh inning.

Honkers reliever Spencer Johnson would get the loss. Johnson came on in relief of starter Kenyon Yovan in the fourth inning and gave up Einertson’s go-ahead double in the sixth.

Steele’s outing caps off a spectacular season for him, a season in which he was the first Lark ever to be named to the Northwoods League All-Star Game. He finishes with a 4-3 record and a 2.94 ERA. He was named the Northwoods League Pitcher of the Night on June 15 when he went eight innings strong in Willmar. He gave up just one earned run in the Larks 7-4 win.

The win Friday night moves the Larks up to 12-16 in the second half and drops the Honkers to 10-16. Bismarck has eight games left on the season, which means getting back to .500 for the second half is still a possibility.

The Birds still have something to play for this season, but they’ll have to take it one game at a time. Saturday night’s game with Rochester is scheduled for a 6:05 pm start.

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The Bismarck Larks are a member of the finest developmental league for 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, 180 former 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 portal. For more information, visit or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Larks as your favorite team.

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