Rochester, MN – After a blowout on Monday, July 29, both games of Tuesday’s double-header were much closer. The Larks won game one 9-4 and the Honkers won game two 3-2.
Marty Tolson Jr. (Maryland-Eastern Shore) was the Flock’s starting pitcher for game one. After three straight wins, the Larks were determined to stop Tolson’s streak as they immediately starting producing runs in the top of the first inning.
It started when Zack Gregory hit a double, then Brody Tanksley hit a single, and Brian Leonhardt hit an RBI single to give Bismarck a 1-0.
But they weren’t done yet. Ty Condel was hit by a pitch and Wyatt Ulrich hit an RBI single to make the score 2-0.
After a scoreless second inning, the Honkers got their first run of the game when Ryan Wrobleski (Dallas Baptist) singled, Evan Berkey (Cal State-Bakersfield) was hit by a pitch, Kyler McMahan (Oregon State) advanced Wrobleski to third base with a fielder’s choice.
Andy Armstrong (Oregon State) then hit an RBI sac-fly to bring Rochester within one run, 2-1.
Unfortunately, the Larks tacked on four more runs in the top of the fourth inning. Brody Tanksley brought home the first two runs with an RBI double. The next batter, Brian Leonhardt, hit an RBI single to score Tanksley.
Bismarck then made it 6-1 when Damon Lux drew a bases-loaded walk.
The Flock responded with a run in the bottom of the third inning when Logan Denholm (California-Davis) hit a ground-rule double, Ryan Ober (Oregon State) singled, and Zack Zalesky (Oregon State) hit an RBI groundout.
Rochester cut their deficit in half when Armstrong crushed a two-run home run to make the score 6-4 after five innings.
The Larks got those runs back in the sixth inning when they drew two bases-loaded walks to increase their lead to 8-4.
Bismarck added one more in the seventh inning when AJ DiFillipo hit an RBI single.
Their 9-4 held the rest of the way as they Honkers’ offense couldn’t get anything going against Larks’ reliever Dominic Arias.
The Flock’s starting pitcher Ryan Dorney (Saint Martin’s) got off to a great start by retiring the side in the top of the first inning.
However, Bismarck starter Josh Gray did the same thing in the bottom of the first.
Once again, the Larks got on the board first by scoring multiple runs in an inning. Brian Leonhardt led-off the inning with a double and he scored on an RBI single by Ty Condel.
Bismarck scored again when Damon Lux hit a sacrifice-fly to left field. Thankfully, Dorney limited the damage to just two runs.
In the top of the third inning, the home plate umpire ruled Larks’ batter Zack Gregory hit a foul ball but he didn’t make the foul sign so the Honkers thought it was a dropped third strike and threw to first base for the out. After that controversial call, Rochester Manager Thomas Walker came out to ask the umpire about the call and he ended up getting ejected.
Rochester’s offense got on the board in the bottom of the third inning thanks to some production from the top of their lineup. Armstrong got it started with a double and he scored on an RBI single by McMahan.
Peterson tied the game 2-2 with an RBI single that scored McMahan.
Dorney recorded his third 1-2-3 inning in the top of the fourth inning. However, Gray responded by accomplishing the same feat in the bottom of the fourth.
The Honkers took the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning when Armstrong hit a solo home run. The 345-foot blast gave the Flock a 3-2 lead.
Bismarck drew three walks to load the bases in the top of the sixth inning. Fortunately, Dorney got the final out of the inning and his night’s work by getting Jacob Rogers to hit a fly-out. Dorney allowed just one hit in his final four innings.
Jack Chernow got into scoring position for the Larks in the seventh inning when he drew a walk and stole second base, but that’s as close as he would get as Mitchell Allen (New Mexico State) got two strikeouts to end the inning.
Armstrong another big hit in the eighth inning when he hit a long ball into right-center field and the center fielder dived for it but couldn’t catch it. Armstrong reached third base for a triple.
Keon Taylor (Georgetown College) got the final three outs in the ninth to earn the save.
The loss and win in the night cap brings the Honkers’ second half record to 14-12 and their overall record is now 32-29.
Armstrong was honored the Profile Sanford Player of the Game after going 3-4 and falling just a single short of hitting for the cycle.
The Honkers will host the Bismarck Larks one more time on Wednesday, July 31, at 6:35 p.m. Rochester will continue their homestand on Thursday, August 1, when they begin a two-game series against the Mankato MoonDogs at 6:35 p.m.
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.