Game One Goes To Rochester
Rochester 7 – La Crosse 2
In a game full of missed opportunities for the Honkers, Danny Brock (St. Louis) came through with a clutch grand slam in the sixth inning to lead the Honkers to a 7-2 victory over La Crosse in game one of the NWL Championship Series. Bret Mitchell (Minnesota State Mankato) pitched seven excellent innings to earn the win in front of a Honkers playoff record crowd of 1,053. Rochester will go for their fifth NWL title tomorrow night when they face the Loggers in La Crosse at 6:05pm.
Rochester had plenty of opportunities to take an early lead, but ended up stranding at least one runner in scoring position in each of the first five innings while the Loggers scored first to take a 1-0 lead in the third. Austin Knight (Dallas Baptist) hit a two out RBI double off of Mitchell to score Tony Mueller (Winona State) for the first run of the game. But the Honkers answered back in the fourth and tied the game up at 1-1. Aaron Johnson (Illinois) drew a one out walk off of La Crosse starter Pete Woodworth (Florida Gulf Coast), and Aaron Dunsmore (Dayton) followed with a double to put runners at second and third with one out. John Tommasini (Oregon State) was the next batter, and the Honkers put on the suicide squeeze play and Tommasini laid down a perfect bunt to score Johnson and equalize the score at one.
The score would stay there until the sixth, when Danny Brock broke the game open for Rochester. The Loggers brought in Andrew McKirahan (Texas) to start the inning, and the Honkers loaded the bases with one out on singles from Nick Ramirez (Cal State Fullerton) and Aaron Johnson and a walk by Tommasini. Danny Pulfer (Oregon) was the next batter, and he bounced the ball to third where the Loggers threw home to get the second out at the plate. Corey Jones (Cal State Fullerton) was the next batter, and he drew a walk to bring in a run and give Rochester their first lead at 2-1. Brock came up next, and he tattooed a ball well over the wall in left center for a game-breaking grand slam to put the Honkers on top 6-1 and effectively decide the game. Rochester would add another in the seventh to take a 7-1 lead, and the bullpen would have no trouble holding it. Scott McGough (Oregon) game on and pitched a quiet eighth before getting into a little trouble in the ninth inning. A hit batsman, a walk and single loaded the bases with one out, and an RBI single by Blair Moore (San Diego State) made the score 7-2. But McGough would buckle down, and get a pop out to second and a strikeout to complete the victory.
Mitchell earned the win as he allowed just one run on five hits in seven innings while the loss fell to McKirahan as he yielded five earned runs in the sixth inning. Brock led the offense with a 2-for4 performance featuring the grand slam, a double, a run scored and four RBI. Johnson also scored two runs for the Honkers. Moore and Robert Abel (San Francisco) each had two hits for the Loggers.
Game two will be tomorrow night in La Crosse at 6:05pm. The Honkers will pitch Brian Flynn (Wichita State) while the Loggers will turn to Richie Erath (Florida Gulf Coast). Game three, if it is necessary, will be Sunday in Rochester at 3:05pm.