Honkers Drop One In Mankato
Mankato, MN — For the fifth straight game, the Honkers got a great start from their pitchers, but on Saturday, June 22, it wasn’t as the Mankato MoonDogs got four runs in the eighth inning to beat Rochester 5-2.
Evan Layne (Lake Erie College) got the Honkers’ pitching staff off to a great start by retiring the side in the first two innings.
With the score still scoreless, the Honkers offense got the first scoring threat going in the third inning when Jack Thelen (Wisconsin-Milwaukee) hit a single and Evan Berkey (Cal State-Bakersfield) hit a ground rule double to advance Thelen to third base. Rochester then got the first run of the game when Andy Armstrong (Oregon State) hit a groundout that scored Thelen.
Unfortunately, that lead didn’t last long as the MoonDogs responded in their next at-bat. It started when Layne hit Damon Maynard with a pitch, then Nick Novak hit a single, and Dayton Dooney drew a walk to load the bases. Mankato tied the game 1-1 on a Cuba Bess walk. Thankfully, Layne got the next batter to hit a line drive to Honkers’ left fielder Vinny Tosti to prevent any more runs.
MoonDogs’ starting pitcher Carter Rustad settled down in the fourth by retiring the side.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Marty Tolson Jr. (Maryland-Eastern Shore) relieved Layne and needed to face just four batters to end the inning.
Jaxon Passino came in to pitch for Mankato in the fifth inning and he promptly retired the side in nine pitches.
Not to be outdone, Tolson Jr. also retired the side in the same number of pitches.
After a scoreless sixth and seventh inning, Jimmy Larson came in to pitch the eighth for the MoonDogs. He kept Mankato’s great pitching performance going as he retired the side making it two straight innings that the MoonDogs’ pitchers had accomplished that feat.
Logan Nissen (Bethany Lutheran) relieved Tolson Jr. in the eighth inning. He got one quick out, but then things started to unravel. After giving up two straight singles, Mankato’s Tanner Craig hit an RBI double to give the MoonDogs a 2-1 lead.
With runners on third and second base and already down by one run, Nissen needed an out, but one bad pitch broke the game wide open as Josh Elvir hit a three-run home run to increase Mankato’s lead to 5-1.
Mitchell Allen (New Mexico State) relieved Nissen and retired his first two batters to end the inning.
Down to their final three outs, the Honkers’ offense got going thanks to three straight Oregon State Beavers. First, Armstrong hit a single, then Ryan Ober hit a single and Armstrong advanced to third base on a MoonDogs’ error. The Honkers got their second run of the game when Zack Zalesky hit a fielder’s choice that scored Armstrong.
Unfortunately, that’s as close as Rochester would get as Hayden Juenger got Ryan Wrobleski (Dallas Baptist) to hit into a fielder’s choice and Kyler McMahan (Oregon State) to strike out.
The 5-2 loss drops the Honkers’ record to 15-11.
Marty Tolson Jr. was awarded Profile Sanford Player of the Game honors for striking out three batters in four shutout innings.
Rochester will play host to the MoonDogs on Sunday, June 23 in a 1:05 p.m. start. Following that game, the Honkers get the day off on Monday before traveling to Willmar to face the Stingers on Tuesday, June 25, and Wednesday, June 26. Both games start at 7:05 p.m.