The bullpen keeps it together as the Honkers beat the Bucks before returning home for Wednesday’s game
(Rochester, Minn.)– In the day’s first of two games between the Honkers and the Bucks, Rochester made the most of their opportunities to defeat Waterloo, 6-4, at Riverfront Stadium.
After the Honkers threatened but failed to score in the top half of the first, the Bucks opened the game’s scoring in the bottom of the inning off Honkers starter Nick Gruener (Harvard).
Pat MacKenzie (Central Michigan) led off with a single to get things started in Waterloo but Gruener retired the next two batters. With two outs, Bucks center fielder Kevin Kaczmarski (Evansville) singled in MacKenzie to give the Bucks an early 1-0 lead.
In the fourth, Jeff Campbell (North Dakota) singled to begin the inning. Moving to second after a wild pitch from Bucks starter Nick Deckert (Florida Gulf Coast), Reid Roper (Illinois) drove him in on an RBI single, tying the game at one with nobody out. Two outs later, Tanner Buenting (Iowa Central Community College) singled in Travis Hull (Chabot College) from second base, and the Honkers grabbed the one-run lead.
An inning later in the fifth, the Honkers tacked on a few more runs to their lead. With runners on first and third, Roper grounded a ball to second base and beat out the would-be double play to earn his second RBI of the game and carried the Honkers to a 3-1 advantage. They weren’t finished in the inning, though.
Tim Shannon (Minnesota) relieved Deckert after walking Travis Hull to put runners on first and second with two outs and college teammate Jordan Smith (Minnesota) at the plate. Smith bested Shannon with an RBI single to center and Jack Goihl (Augustana College) followed Smith with a double to right field to score another run, and the Honkers stormed to a 5-1 lead.
The Bucks charged back in the bottom half of the fifth, though, with back-to-back doubles to pull them within three runs of the tie off Gruener. Later in the inning, Waterloo loaded the bases off Gruener with two outs and David Kerian (Illinois) at the plate, Bucks’ team leader in RBIs. But Gruener coaxed Kerian to a pop out to Roper at third base and the Honkers escaped with a three-run lead.
When Connor McClain (Indiana State) led off the bottom of the sixth with a double, Honkers field manager Matt Bowman decided to make a change on the mound, calling on righty reliever Ryne Roper (Illinois). Roper recorded the inning’s first two outs, but an error committed by the second baseman Buenting scored Roper’s inherited run, making it 5-3 ballgame.
The Honkers earned their sixth run in the eighth inning with two outs and runners on first and third base when Alex Schultz (Nebraska Omaha) was caught stealing second base, but wasted enough time for Jordan Smith to score from third.
After two strong innings in relief from Ryne Roper and a scoreless eighth from Brandon Stennis (Doane College), the Honkers handed the ball to Carl Jameson (Missouri Baptist) to close out their win Wednesday afternoon. Jameson allowed one run but still retired the side with the lead intact as the Honkers win the day’s first game, 6-4.
The Bucks and Honkers hit the road immediately following the afternoon’s game to prepare for a night game at 7:05 p.m. in Rochester. Will Bamesberger (Creighton) will pitch with the hopes to give the Honkers a sweep of the Bucks in their final meeting of the season and a share of the SCHEELS Hwy. 63 Cup. For ticket information, visit 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, visit www.rochesterhonkers.com.