Rochester, MN – After another bad first inning, it looked like the Rochester Honkers would be in for a long night, but with the help of their 1,169 fans in attendance, they stormed back and forced extra innings before winning 8-7 in their first walk-off win of the season.
After being a reliable starter for most of the season, Dwayne Marshall (Maryland-Eastern Shore) struggled to get outs as he gave up two walks and a single to load the bases in the top of the first inning.
Chase Stanke got the scoring started for Willmar when he hit an RBI single. Daniel Walsh one-upped his teammate by driving in two runs with a single later in the inning. The Stingers made it a 5-0 game when two more runs scored on an error by Honkers’ shortstop Evan Berkey (Cal State-Bakersfield).
Logan Nissen (Bethany Lutheran) relieved Marshall in the second inning and he was more effective, but Willmar managed to get a run when Justin King hit a sacrifice-fly to right field.
Down 6-0, Rochester had their work cut out, but they inched closer in the bottom half of the second inning when Ryan Wrobleski lead-off the inning with a double and later scored on an error by Stingers’ center fielder Andrew Lucas.
Following a scoreless top of the third inning by Nissen, the Flock moved one step closer when Andy Armstrong (Oregon State) hit a sacrifice-fly to left field to score A.J. Miller (Oregon).
Nissen had his best inning of relief in the fourth when he retired the side to keep the score 6-2.
After a quiet bottom of the fourth for the Honkers, Mitchell Allen (New Mexico State) came in to pitch the fifth inning and he had his own 1-2-3 inning and only needed 11 pitches to do it.
Allen somehow improved his performance in the sixth inning when his retired the side in just 8 pitches!
Kyler McMahan (Oregon State) almost single-handedly got Rochester’s offense going in the sixth inning when he drew a walk, advanced to second base on a wild pitch, and moved to third base on another wild pitch. He scored when Armstrong his second sacrifice-fly of the night.
But that wasn’t all the Honkers’ had up their sleeve as Nathan Webb (California-Riverside) sliced a double down the third base line to move Ryan Wrobleski (Dallas Baptist) to third base.
Wrobleski later scored when Zack Zalesky (Oregon State) hit an RBI groundout to Willmar second baseman Daniel Walsh. Lastly, Webb was rewarded for his big hit by crossing home plate on an RBI single by Vinny Tosti (Oregon).
The three-run sixth made it a 6-5 deficit for Rochester, but that score didn’t last long as the Stingers got a sacrifice-fly from Tyler Bosetti to push their lead to 7-5.
The Flock got that run back in the bottom of the seventh inning when Armstrong roped a double into left field to score Berkey from first base.
Marc Bisogno kept the score at 7-6 by recording a scoreless eighth inning.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Honkers got their most critical run yet when new catcher Austin Schell (Golden West College) made his second hit of the season a double into right field that scored Zalesky all the way from first base.
Rochester’s closer Keon Taylor (Georgetown College) came in to pitch the ninth and struck out the side to give the Honkers’ a chance to walk-off in the bottom of the ninth.
The offense couldn’t get that last winning run in the ninth, so the game went into extra innings.
In the tenth, the last batter from the previous inning starts on second base and after a sacrifice-fly that Willmar runner, Branden Boissiere, advanced to third base. But Taylor responded by inducing a groundout and striking out Stanke to end the inning.
Aaron Simmons (Wisconsin-Stevens Point) was the Honkers’ pinch-runner at second base. The Flock’s first batter, Nathan Webb, hit a bunt towards third base knowing that if the third baseman fielded the ball there would be no one there to prevent Simmons from taking third. However, Willmar’s pitcher, Aldo Fernandez, fielded the ball and threw to first base, but his throw was errant and Simmons rounded third and came home to score the winning run!
The walk-off win makes Rochester’s second half record 7-5 while their overall record improves to 25-22.
Andy Armstrong was honored as the Profile Sanford Player of the Game for going 1-3 with two sacrifice flies and 3 RBI.
The Honkers host the series finale on Sunday, July 14, at 1:05 p.m. After that, most of the Flock will enjoy a few days off, while Ryan Middendorf, Keon Taylor, Evan Berkey, Tristan Peterson, and Ryan Wrobleski will represent the Honkers at the 2019 All-Star Game in Waterloo, Iowa.
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.