Rochester, MN — The Honkers made their attendance of 1,378 fans very happy by jumping out to a big lead and holding on to beat the Willmar Stingers 9-6 on Sunday, July 21.
Rochester’s starter Marty Tolson Jr. (Maryland-Eastern Shore) got the Honkers off to a great start by retiring the side in the top of the first inning.
The Flock’s second batter, Kyler McMahan (Oregon State), got the home run party started by smashing a 405-foot solo home run over the scoreboard in the right-center field. Birthday boy Tristan Peterson (New Mexico State) made it back-to-back homers with a 367-foot blast to give the Honkers a 2-0 lead.
After a strikeout by Stingers’ starter John Bezdicek, Logan Denholm (California-Davis) added to Rochester’s lead with his own solo home run to make it a 3-0 at the end of the first inning.
Brandon Bohning got Willmar’s first hit with a single in the second inning, but Tolson Jr. immediately got the next batter, Chase Stanke, to hit into a double play to keep the Stingers scoreless.
The Flock threatened to score again in the bottom of the third inning when Peterson, Ryan Wrobleski (Dallas Baptist), and Denholm hit three consecutive singles to load the bases. Ryan Ober (Oregon State) made the Honkers’ lead 4-0 when he hit an RBI groundout to score Peterson.
Tolson Jr. continued to cruise in the top of the fourth by retiring the side for the second consecutive inning and third time overall.
Rochester continued to increase their lead in the bottom of the fourth when McMahan lined a two-run single into the outfield. After a Wrobleski walk, the Honkers got another RBI single, this time by Denholm, to make their lead 7-0 after just four innings.
The Flock continued to receive great pitching from Tolson Jr. as he retired the side for the third straight inning. In his five-inning start, Tolson Jr. faced the minimum 15 batters and allowed just one hit in 45 pitches!
Micah Wallette (Golden West College) came in to pitch in the sixth inning and he had trouble finding the strike zone as he walked the first three batters to load the bases. Stingers’ center fielder Riley Johnson then hit an RBI single to make it a 7-1 score, but Rochester’s defense turned an inning-ending double-play to limit the damage.
Anthony Rodriguez (Monroe College) pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth inning without giving up a hit.
Peterson added to the Honkers’ lead when he hit a two-run single in the bottom of the seventh to make it a 9-1 game.
Those runs came in handy as Willmar made a strong comeback attempt against Rochester reliever Casey Nimmo (San Diego Mesa) in the ninth inning. It began when Justin King drew a walk, Stanke hit a single which allowed King to advance to third base, and Daniel Walsh drew a walk to load the bases.
The Stingers made it 9-2 when Noah Haupt hit an RBI single. Unfortunately, Willmar’s next batter, Kaden Fowler, hit the first pitch he saw over the fence for a grand slam. Just like that the Stingers were down by just three runs, 9-6, and there was just one out in the ninth.
After giving up singles to Ryan Johnson and Riley Johnson, Nimmo was relieved by Logan Nissen (Bethany Lutheran) who’s first pitch was hit by Branden Boissiere. Thankfully, it was caught by Honkers’ shortstop Evan Berkey (Cal State-Bakersfield) who then stepped on second base to turn an unassisted double play which ended the game and gave Rochester a series sweep of Willmar.
The 9-6 win lifted the Honkers’ second half record to 10-7 and their overall record to 28-24.
Tristan Peterson was named the Profile Sanford Player of the Game for his solo home run and 3 RBI.
The Flock will travel to La Crosse to take on the Loggers on Monday, July 22, at 6:35 p.m. The Loggers then come to Rochester to compete against the Honkers on Tuesday, July 22, at 6:35 p.m.