ROCHESTER, MN. – The 951 fans who attended Saturday’s game were treated to what will probably go down as the most entertaining game of the season even though their Honkers eventually lost 9-8 to the St. Cloud Rox in 10 innings.
While the ending of the game was fantastic, you wouldn’t have thought that would be case as both teams got off to a slow start. In fact, St. Cloud’s Trae Robertson and Rochester’s David Lemasters (Lake Erie College) prevented any runs from scoring until the fourth inning.
That’s when Lemasters got himself into some trouble as he walked his first two batters and following a sacrifice-bunt he threw a wild pitch that allowed Garett Delano to cross home plate putting the Rox up 1-0. That same at-bat continued to haunt Lemasters as he gave up a single to Garret Nielsen which scored Brett Bonar to increase St. Cloud’s lead to 2-0. Lastly, Tyler Finke got a RBI single after hitting a ball off of Lemasters to give the Rox a 3-0 lead.
Lemasters settled down after that and pitched a scoreless fifth inning. He was relieved in the sixth inning by Keon Taylor (Georgetown College) who kept the trend going by pitching a scoreless sixth.
The Honkers scored their first runs of the game in the bottom of the sixth. After issuing a walk to Craig Shepherd (Evansville), Robertson was relieved by Gus Radel who got a quick out, but then he too had problems with pitch accuracy. He walked Tristan Peterson (New Mexico State), walked Brennan Schmitt (UW-La Crosse), and hit Jack Thelen (UW-Milwaukee) with a pitch to score Shepherd and make the score 3-1. Max Rippl then replaced Radel but he didn’t fare any better as he surrendered a RBI walk to Seth Nelson (Golden West College) and a RBI single to Tim Borden II (Louisville) to tie the game 3-3.
St. Cloud quickly reclaimed the lead when Delano hit a two-run home run.
Rochester showed their resiliency by getting their own two-run home run off the bat of Ryan Wrobleski (Dallas Baptist) to tie the game 5-5.
Now in the eighth inning, Marc Bisogno (Fordham) entered as a reliever for the Honkers. He ran into trouble after walking the second and third batters he faced. With Bisogno focused on throwing strikes, the Rox took advantage by hitting two RBI singles, one by Jordan Barth and the other by Delano, to give St. Cloud a 7-5 lead.
The Honkers entered the ninth inning down by two runs. Aaron Simmons (UW-Stevens Point), pinch-hitting for Henry George (UM-Duluth), got the inning started with a walk. After advancing to second base on a wild pitch, Simmons moved to third on a single by Shepherd. Peterson hit a RBI double to bring the Honkers within one run of St. Cloud. Then, Schmitt hit a sacrifice-fly to tie the game and send it to extra innings.
In extras, both teams start with a runner on second base and the Rox took advantage as Ben Carew hit a two-run home run, which in any other inning would have been a solo home run, and gave St. Cloud a 9-7 lead.
Once again, Rochester found themselves trailing by two runs and down to their final three outs. Thelen started on second base for the Honkers, and it looked like he might be stranded there as new Rox pitcher Blake Stelzer quickly got the first two outs of the inning. However, the momentum turned when Thelen scored on an error by the St. Cloud right fielder which allowed Simmons to advance to first base. Another St. Cloud error helped Shepherd advance to first and keep going to second base, meanwhile Simmons was racing from first to third and he tried to score the game-tying run but he was tagged out at home to end the game.
Rochester makes a quick trip to Waterloo on Sunday, before returning home to host Waterloo Monday in a 6:35 p.m. start. Following that series, the Honkers head to Bismarck, North Dakota to play four games in three days against the Larks.
Season tickets and new all-you-can-eat ticket packages are available for purchase right now at www.RochesterHonkers.com or by calling the Honkers front office at 507-289-1170.
The Rochester Honkers are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Now in its 26th season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 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, over 200 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (MIA). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.rochesterhonkers.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Honkers as your favorite team.