Six-Run Eighth Inning Completes Honkers’ Comeback Over Express
(Rochester, Minn.) – The Rochester Honkers (2-1 Second Half, 18-20 Overall) overcame a three-run deficit twice to defeat the Eau Claire Express (1-2, 16-23) by a score of 10-6 on Friday night at Mayo Field. Zach Zubia (Texas) and Johnathan Fleek (Western Illinois) combined for eight hits, five RBIs, and three runs scored.
Matt Duce (Dallas Baptist) led off the top of the second inning with a solo home run. Two doubles by Beau Capanna (New Mexico) and Zach Ashford (Fresno State) drove in two more runs and gave the Express an early 3-0 lead.
The Honkers grabbed a run back in the bottom of the second inning. Fleek doubled to the left field corner, scoring Jordan Hart (Minnesota State-Mankato) from second base. David Noworyta (Hawaii) tried to score on the same play, but was thrown out at the plate.
Zubia entered the game 1-for-14 in his last five games. He seemed to return to his normal self, hitting a two-run home run to right-center field in the bottom of the fifth inning, tying the game at 3-3. Hart tried to give the Honkers the lead on a wild pitch, but was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
Eau Claire reclaimed the lead off the Rochester bullpen, scoring three runs on three hits in the top of the seventh inning.
The Honkers primed for another comeback in the bottom half of the inning. The first three batters of the inning reached on a walk and two singles to load the bases. Zeke Pinkham (Louisville) brought in Ethan Ibarra (St. Cloud State) to score on a groundout to the second baseman. The threat to score still loomed with runners on second and third, but was extinguished on back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.
The Honkers loaded the bases again with one out in the eighth inning. Griffin Neuer (Bellarmine) walked, scoring Konnor Zickefoose (UC Irvine). Zubia followed with a two-run double down the left-field line, giving the Honkers their first lead of the game. Six runs scored in the inning on four hits.
Garrett Cobb (Seminole State) pitched a clean ninth inning with a strikeout to seal the 10-6 win.
Ryan Dorney (St. Martin’s) earned the win (2-2) for the Honkers. He pitched a clean eighth inning while striking out two and walking one.
Josh Gaworski (Century CC) took the loss (1-2) for the Express. He pitched 2.1 innings, giving up four runs on five hits while striking out three batters and walking two.
The Honkers face the Eau Claire Express for the final time this season tomorrow, July 8, at Mayo Field. Saturday night is set for the Mascot Olympics at the Honkers game. Gates open at 6:00 p.m. First pitch is 7:05 p.m. Drew Slade (Ripon) is scheduled to pitch for the Honkers. Slade is 3-1 this season with a 6.30 ERA.
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