Rochester, MN – As the season enters its final stretch, each game becomes more and more important and the second-place Rochester Honkers grabbed a critical win by beating the last-place Bismarck Larks 10-2 in front of 1,317 enthusiastic fans.
In his second start of the season, Marc Bisogno (Fordham) gave up a lead-off single, but his defense backed him up when second baseman Evan Berkey (Cal State-Bakersfield) turned a 4-3 double play to end the inning.
After a great play in the field, Berkey made a good play at the plate by hitting a single and stealing second base. Kyler McMahan (Oregon State) drew a walk and Andy Armstrong (Oregon State) hit a single to load the bases.
Tristan Peterson (New Mexico State) made it four straight batters to reach base safely by hitting a fielder’s choice which scored Berkey from third base. McMahan then scored on a wild pitch to give Rochester a 2-0 lead.
Following a walk by A.J. Miller (Oregon), Mitchell Allen (New Mexico State) broke the game wide open with a three-run double that increased the Flock’s to 5-0.
The Honkers’ defense once again showcased their great fielding by turning a 6-4-3 double play in the top of the second inning.
Bismarck loaded the bases in the third inning, but Bisogno retired Ty Condel to keep the Larks scoreless.
Berkey nearly had a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning, but Bismarck’s left fielder Damon Lux made a catch near the top of the wall to the Flock at five runs.
The Larks’ offense got their first run of the game in the top of the fifth inning when Brian Leonhardt scored on a wild pitch.
Bismarck added another run in the top of the sixth. Damon Lux hit a single, stole second base, and advanced to third base on an error. Clay Woeste then hit a sacrifice-fly to cut the Honkers’ lead to 5-2.
However, Rochester responded with three runs in their next at-bat. Zack Zalesky (Oregon State) got it started with a walk, Allen also drew a walk, and Berkey scored the first run with an RBI single.
McMahan followed with another RBI single and Berkey made it 8-2 when he scored due to an error by the Larks’ right fielder Ty Condel.
Bismarck got a lead-off double by Jack Chernow in the top of the seventh inning, but that’s as close as he got to scoring against Honkers’ reliever Casey Nimmo (San Diego Mesa).
Adam Fjerstad (Bethany Lutheran) pitched Rochester’s first 1-2-3 inning in the top of the eighth.
The Flock added a couple runs to their lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. It began when Berkey hit a single, then McMahan hit a single, and Peterson was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Berkey scored when Larks’ catcher Brody Tanksley dropped what seemed to be an easy pop-fly right in front of home plate. Ryan Ober hit an RBI single to give Rochester a 10-2 lead.
Allen retired all three batters he faced in the ninth inning to seal the win.
The 10-2 win raises the Honkers’ second half record to 15-12 and their overall record is now 33-29.
Allen was named the Profile Sanford Player of the Game after hitting the big three-run double that broke the game wide open and pitching a scoreless ninth inning.
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.