Offense trounces MoonDogs pitching for nine runs and 14 hits in Kent’s strong start
(Rochester, Minn.)– Matt Kent pitched brilliantly in the Honkers’ 9-2 win over rivals Mankato MoonDogs at Mayo Field Tuesday afternoon.
A sloppy first inning for both teams had three unearned runs cross the plate. Tyler Sullivan (Pacific) grounded a ball sharply to Reid Roper (Illinois) who was unable to field the ball cleanly, resulting in his fourth error of the season. Sullivan would come around to score from first base after shortstop Brett Synek (Evansville) doubled to the right field corner. Derek Umphres (New Mexico State) also added a solo home run in the inning with two outs, getting the MoonDogs to an early 2-0 lead – it was Umphres’ second home run of the season.
The Honkers had some help cutting the lead in half from Mankato. Alex Schultz (Nebraska Omaha) led off the inning with a single and three errors later, scored on a ground ball fielder’s choice off the bat of Jeff Campbell (North Dakota).
Rochester took the lead in the bottom of the third inning after Connor Schaefbauer’s (Minnesota) double tied the game at two. Campbell followed Schaefbauer with an RBI single into right field, pushing the Honkers into the lead, 3-2, off MoonDogs starter and All-Star Cord Cockrell (Southern Mississippi).
In the fifth, the Honkers smacked back-to-back home runs for the first time all season. Roper hit a three-run home run, his third of the season – all three coming in the second half. Roper has 13 RBIs in his last eight games. Roper’s home run prompted Mankato to make a pitching change, turning to reliever Austin Warner (Bellarmine).
John Schuknecht (Cal Poly) followed up Roper with a homer of his own, his second of the summer, extending the Honkers’ lead to 7-2.
For the Honkers, and after a busy first inning, NWL All-Star Matt Kent (Texas A&M) settled in, stalling a MoonDogs lineup featuring two All-Stars themselves. After allowing back-to-back singles to lead off the third inning, Kent set down 13 straight batters.
Corey Hassel (Oklahoma State) piled onto to the Honkers’ lead with a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh, his fifth of the season, overtaking Campbell for the team lead.
Roper drove in another run in the bottom of the eighth, his 22nd RBI this season – capping a big afternoon for the Honkers offensively, scoring eight runs on 14 hits.
Kent made his way to the mound to record the game’s final three outs and finish the first Honkers’ nine-inning complete game of the season. Kent pitched around a lead-off double en route to the complete game. He ended the afternoon pitching all nine innings, allowing two runs, both unearned, on seven hits no walks and nine strikeouts. The nine strikeouts give him 48 this summer which moves him into the league’s lead.
The Honkers travel to Mankato tomorrow evening to play the MoonDogs for a 7:05 p.m. first pitch. The Honkers’ big lefty Michael Freeman (Oklahoma State) will be handed the ball tomorrow night looking for his first win of the season in his third start. The Honkers return home Thursday night for a quick two-game series with the Eau Claire Express. Ticket information can be found at rochesterhonkers.com.
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.