Mankato, Minn. – All-Star closer Arik Sikula stranded the tying run on second in the ninth inning to give the Rochester Honkers a 2-1 victory over the Mankato MoonDogs Thursday evening at Mayo Field.
Sikula’s (Marshall) save lengthened his league lead, as he posted number 15 on the summer. After Danny Miller (Minnesota State) reached second on a wild pitch, Sikula bore down to strike out Jimmy Patterson (Arizona St.) and Kyle Knudson (Minnesota) to end the game.
Both teams had five hits, but Corey Jones (Cal State Fullerton) was the only player with multiple hits, going 2-3 with a run. The Honker bullpen of Sikula, Nick Ramirez (Cal St. Fullerton) and Scott McGough (Oregon) held the MoonDogs to just two hits and no runs over the last four innings.
The MoonDogs (32-19, 9-9) never led in the game, as Rochester jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second. Aaron Johnson (Illinois) led off with a looping single to right before he was moved to second on a bunt. Corey Jones (Cal State Fullerton) then brought him home with a sharp single up the middle that was bobbled in center by Ryan Durant (Iowa) that allowed Johnson to score the game’s first run.
The MoonDogs came back to tie the game with a pair of singles and a Rochester error. Durant singled on a slicing line down the right field line and moved to second on an error. With two outs, Tony Strazzara (San Diego) singled deep behind second base. John Tommasini (Oregon State) tried to make the off-balance throw, but Danny Brock (St. Louis) moved off first, allowing the throw to get by Brock, and scored Durant.
The winning run for the Honkers (31-20, 12-6) came in the sixth, as Jones singled P.J. Sequeira (Oral Roberts) doubled to put the two on second and third with nobody out. Rance Roundy (UNLV) grounded out to the right side to score Jones, but that’s the only run the Honkers would get, as the Mankato bullpen minimized the damage.
Alex Burgos (Manatee CC) also had a solid performance for the Dogs, throwing three innings of hitless relief.
The Honkers and Dogs continued their trend of playing close games, as of their seven games, six have been decided by two runs or less, including four one-run contests.
The two squads will wrap up their eight-game season series with a match-up in Rochester tomorrow. First pitch will be at 7:05 p.m.