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Late Rally Leads Honkers Past Growlers

ROCHESTER, MN – They stayed close for six innings, but the Rochester Honkers pulled away with a late offensive onslaught, downing the Kalamazoo Growlers 11-2 on Wednesday night at Mayo Field.

Jayson Yano (Stevens Institute, 4-1) earned the win after allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits in seven innings. He walked five and struck out three on 100 pitches. Sean Isaac (Vanguard, 0-3) took the loss by allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits in four innings.

The Honkers (17-11) opened the scoring with two in the bottom of the first. Alex Schultz (Nebraska-Omaha) walked, Matt Fiedler (Minnesota) singled, and Joe DeRoche-Duffin (UConn) singled to load the bases. Kalamazoo traded a run for a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Adam Walton (Illinois), but another groundball hopped over the head of shortstop Kory Young (Michigan State) and allowed the second run of the frame to score.

The Growlers (7-23) stayed in the game thanks to a pair of sacrifice flies by Tyler Stevens (KVCC). In the top of the fifth, Stephen Letz (Northern Illinois) walked and went to third on an error. Stevens hit a flyball to medium left field, allowing Letz to score to make it 2-1. In the seventh, Angelo Armenta (USC) led off with a single and eventually came home on Stevens’ lineout to center to make it 3-2.

Kalamazoo nearly tied it in the seventh with a man on second and two out. Kory Young (Michigan State) singled to center, but Charles Leblanc (Pittsburgh) tripped rounding third base and could not score, holding at third. Young was then picked off of first base, bringing an unceremonious end to the Growler rally.

Rochester broke it open in their half of the seventh. After a single and a walk, Miles Mastrobuoni (College of San Mateo/Nevada) laced a one-out single to plate Fiedler. New pitcher Alex Kuisel (Academy of Art) came on and issued a walk, and Cole Krzmarzick (Nevada) brought home another on a fielder’s choice. Dempsey Grover (UC-Santa Barbara) capped it with a two-run single, making it four in the inning and a 7-2 Honker lead. Four more runs came across in the eighth, highlighted by a two-run double by Mark Contreras (UC-Riverside).

Stevens finished the game 0-1 with two RBIs, both coming on the sac flies. Jordan Stading (Houston) had two hits for the Growlers, while Justin Fletcher (Northern Illinois) doubled to lead off the eighth.

Fieldler scored three times for the Honkers, while Contreras, Krzmarzick, and Grover each drove in two.

An umpire’s decision in the top of the first inning may have cost Kalamazoo a pair of runs. With one on and two out, Nick Yarnall (Pittsburgh) jumped on a first-pitch fastball and sent it towering down the right field line. Although the ball appeared to sail directly above the foul pole, the home plate umpire called it a foul ball. Yarnall eventually traded his phantom home run for a walk, but the Growlers stranded the runners and came up empty in the inning.

The Growlers now turn their attention to the final six games of the first half, five of which will take place at the friendly confines of Homer Stryker Field. The first game is Thursday night against the Wisconsin Woodchucks and will begin at 7:05 p.m.

The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. The 22-year old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 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, 120 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (OAK). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League YouTube channel. For more information, visit http://www.northwoodsleague.com