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Published On: July 19th, 2014

For Immediate Release


A valiant effort falls just short at home against the Express on Friday night

(Rochester, Minn.)– The Honkers and Express needed extra innings to decide a back-and-forth battle, but ultimately it was Eau Claire that pulled through with the win Friday night, 6-4.

Nick Gruener (Harvard) started the game for the Honkers coming off a poor start against the Growlers on July 12. He started the game retiring the first eight recording three strikeouts along the way.

While Gruener started strong, the Honkers got to Express starter Brett Seeburger (San Diego State) early. Reid Roper (Illinois) earned an infield single to begin the second and L.J. Brewster (Hawaii) stepped to the plate. Brewster launched a line drive home run pulled over the left field fence for the Honkers to grab a 2-0 lead. It was Brewster’s third home run of the season.

In the third inning, Ryan Boldt (Nebraska) led off with a walk and immediately stole second base. A throwing error from Eau Claire’s catcher Daniel Salters (Dallas Baptist) moved Boldt to third base with nobody out. A couple of batters later, Connor Schaefbauer (Minnesota) grounded out to second base, but the Express conceded the third run of the game for the Honkers.

Gruener allowed his first hit in the fifth inning on Jeff Hendrix’s (Oregon State) solo home run and fourth of the year. The Express tied the game on the inning’s second home run, this time from Jack Zoellner (New Mexico), a two-run homer.

Seth Holbert (Sam Houston State) relieved Gruener to start the seventh, making his first appearance since July 4 due to an illness that kept him sidelined until tonight. Gruener would finish the evening pitching six innings and allowing three runs on four hits one walk and five strikeouts. Holbert pitched around a hit batter and a walk to keep the game tied at three, striking out two.

It was Will Bamesberger’s (Creighton) turn to maintain the tie ballgame in the eighth. Bamesberger surrendered a hard one-out double off the right field wall to Salters but he struck out the next two to retire the side and preserve the 3-3 tie.

Back-to-back one-out singles from Boldt and Alex Schultz (Nebraska Omaha) put runners on first and second base for the Honkers. The Honkers’ hottest hitter, Schaefbauer, flew out to left field and John Schuknecht (Cal Poly) followed with a walk, loading the bases for Reid Roper. But Express reliever would pitch out of his self-inflicted jam by getting Roper to ground out on one pitch, ending the threat.

Four-plus phenomenal innings pitched by each team’s bullpen sent the game into extra innings. But in the top of the 10th inning, Salters hit a mammoth solo home run to right field off Bamesberger, pushing the Express to a 4-3 lead. All four Express runs came via the home run on the evening.

The Honkers came back to tie it in the bottom of the 10th after a lead-off walk from Boldt. Boldt made it to third after a sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch. With two outs, Schuknecht singled up the middle to tie the game and extend the evening.

In the 11th inning, the Express added two runs on a wild pitch from L.J. Brewster and an RBI single from Brady Burzynski (Wisconsin-Stout). The Honkers made a valiant effort to tie the game once more, but fell short.

The Honkers loaded the bases with just one out and reliever Eric Gleese (Hawaii) on the mound. But Boldt and Schultz struck out to end the game and that would be it. The Honkers lose their final game against the Express at Mayo Field this summer, 6-4.

Rochester will prepare to make an early trip to Thunder Bay, Canada, tomorrow morning to battle the Border Cats for two games. Ryan Bower (Allan Hancock College) is set to start in tomorrow’s game coming off of a NWL Pitcher of the Night honor in his last start on July 13. The Honkers aren’t back home until July 24 when they take on the Battle Creek Bombers for two games. Ticket information can be found at


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, visit