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(June 23)-More extra innings needed for Honkers and Stingers; Rochester wins this time, 6-5

It took 13 more innings Monday, but the Honkers finally win on walkoff single

(Rochester, Minn.)–  After last night’s 16-inning marathon, it took the Honkers 13 more innings to defeat the Stingers on Monday night, 6-5.

In his second start against the Willmar Stingers and second start this season, Seth Holbert (Sam Houston State) was sensational. Holbert struck out 15 out of the 25 batters he faced in the game. He allowed two runs on four hits and walked none.

In the top of the second inning, Holbert’s first run allowed came on a hit to center field by Brett Barbier (Cal Poly) that had center fielder Alex Schultz (Nebraska Omaha) diving and missing the base hit. The ball would roll all the way to the fence and Barbier touched all four bases on the inside-the-park home run.

The Honkers would tie it up in the bottom of the second, though, after Karl Sorenson (St. Cloud State) reached first base to open the half inning on an error by the shortstop Max Dutto (California). With two outs, Blaise Lezynski hit a triple to deep center field, way over the head of Sean Beesley (Illinois State), scoring Sorenson.

In between strikeouts, Holbert allowed his second run of the game in the top of the fourth on a home run by first baseman Nick Rivera (Florida Gulf Coast). At the time, it was Rivera’s second of the series and fourth this season. The Stingers led 2-1 headed to the bottom of the fourth inning.

And, again, when the Stingers took a lead, the Honkers had an answer. Lezynski singled to left to open the inning and was moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Jack Goihl (Augustana). Jordan Smith (Minnesota) doubled sharply down the third base line with two outs to tie the game. Smith was promptly brought home to score after Schultz singled up the middle off the glove of second baseman Frankie Rios (Southern California).

Holbert made sure, as long as he could help it, the Honkers’ lead would stay put at 3-2. He finished the game pitching seven innings, allowing just four hits, two runs to go along with no walks and 15 strikeouts – by far the most by a Honkers pitcher this season in a single outing.

The 3-2 lead would last until Rivera homered for a second time in the game and his third in the last two games. Rivera tied the game off reliever Reid Roper (Illinois) who came on in the ninth inning to try and record the save. The solo home run would be all Reid Roper allowed in the inning.

In the top of the 10th inning, Reid Roper allowed three straight singles before being lifted for reliever Nick Highberger (Creighton), who inherited the bases loaded. Highberger struck out the first batter he faced and nearly pitched out of the inning unscathed after he coaxed Reagan Fowler (Creighton) to ground a ball to shortstop Connor Schaefbauer (Minnesota). After a bobble, Schaefbauer was only able to putout the runner at second. Highberger avoided Rivera this time around in the order and intentionally walked him to load the bases for Casey Hughston (Alabama). Hughston singled to right field scoring the Stingers’ fifth run. And the Honkers trailed headed into the bottom of the 10th inning, 5-3.

Stingers reliever Garrett Anderson (Florida Gulf Coast) started the bottom of the 10th inning and preceded to walk the bases loaded after recording the inning’s first out. Anderson then hit Ryne Roper (Illinois) on the first pitch of his bases-loaded at-bat to get the Honkers within one. He was relieved by Brantley Claunch (North Alabama) and it was his turn to try and pitch out of a bases-loaded jam. Claunch recorded the second out of the inning before walking Schultz and tying the game at five.

Finally, in the bottom of the 13th inning, Schaefbauer led off the inning with a deep triple to center field. Casey Fletcher (Illinois) followed and singled over the head of first baseman Rivera and in four hours and 20 minutes, the Honkers defeat the Stingers, 6-5. Highberger would earn the win after pitching four innings of relief in extras, allowing no runs on just two hits.

Tomorrow, the Honkers travel to Eau Claire to take on the Express for a 7:05 p.m. start. Blake Quinn (Fresno State) will start for the Honkers. Rochester returns home Wednesday to play Eau Claire again for a 7:05 p.m. first pitch. For ticket information, visit rochesterhonkers.com.

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The Rochester Honkers are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 21st season of summer collegiate baseball, the Northwoods 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, more than 115 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (DET), Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Allen Craig (STL) and Ben Zobrist (TB). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League YouTube channel.  For more information, visitwww.rochesterhonkers.com.