Honkers Come from Behind to Walk-off the Stingers
Rochester, MN — After not recording a walk-off win throughout the first two months of the season, the Honkers are quickly making up for that as they got their second walk-off win against the Willmar Stingers in eight days by winning 5-4 in front of 1,337 enthusiastic fans.
Riley Johnson got the Stinger’s offense going right away with a single and Brennan McKenzie got the scoring started with a long home run to give Willmar a 2-0 lead.
Andy Armstrong (Oregon State) hit a double in the bottom of the first inning, but Tristan Peterson’s (New Mexico State) hit was caught on the warning track to keep the Honkers scoreless.
Following a quiet second inning, the Stingers increased their lead to 4-0 in the top of the third inning when they received RBIs from Johnson and Brandon Bohning.
Thankfully, the Honkers got on the board when Evan Berkey (Cal State-Bakersfield) hit an RBI single to score Austin Schell from third base.
Rochester moved closer in the fourth inning when Peterson was hit by a pitch and Logan Denholm (California-Davis) smacked a two-run left over the left field fence.
The Flock didn’t allow the score to stay at 4-3 long as they got another homer, this time a 356- fott solo shot from Austin Schell (Golden West College) to tie the game.
Adam Fjerstad (Bethany Lutheran) relieved Honkers’ starter Evan Layne (Lake Erie College) in the sixth inning and he promptly retired the side.
The Honkers got the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth inning thanks to a Peterson walk, a Zack Zalesky (Oregon State) single, and a Nate Webb (California-Riverside) walk. Unfortunately, Stinger’s starter Jack Zigan ended his night strong by getting out of the jam without giving up a run.
Marc Bisogno (Fordham) came in to pitch the seventh inning and pitched the ninth inning while only giving up one hit to keep Willmar at four runs.
The Stingers’ relievers managed to accomplish the same feat so the game went to extra innings.
In the top of the tenth inning, Sam Baier started on second base due to a new extra-inning rule and he ended scoring on a sacrifice-fly to give Willmar a 5-4 lead.
Fortunately, that lead was only temporary as the Honkers also got a sacrifice-fly, by Denholm, to tie the game 5-5 and force an eleventh inning.
Rochester’s closer Keon Taylor bounced back in the top of the eleventh by registering two strikeouts and inducing a groundout to keep the Stingers from scoring.
Zalesky started the bottom of the eleventh at second base for the Flock. The first Honkers’ batter, Webb, hit a bunt and Willmar reliever Christopher Peres made an errant throw to third base which allowed Zalesky to score the winning run and give Rochester a 5-4 walk-off win!
The victory improves the Flock’s second half record to 9-7 and their overall record to 27-24.
Rochester will host the series finale against the Stingers on Sunday, July 21, at 1:05 p.m. After that, the Honkers travel to La Crosse for the first game in a home-and-home series against the Loggers.