Rochester, MN – Everything seemed to be going Mankato’s way through the first three innings, but as the old cliche goes It’s how you start, it’s how you finish and that held true for the Honkers as they rallied to beat the MoonDogs 5-4.
The crowd of 1,337 fans was silenced when Mankato’s Josh Elvir hit a two-run home run in the top of the first inning.
The crowd’s mood worsened when Evan Berkey (Cal State-Bakersfield) was picked off at first base on an iffy call in the bottom of the first inning.
In the second inning, the MoonDogs increased their lead to 3-0 on an RBI single by Damon Maynard.
Then, the misery continued when the Flock went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the second.
Mankato added another run in the top of the third inning when Jake Moberg drew a bases-loaded walk against Rochester starter Evan Layne (Lake Erie College).
All Rochester’s offense could manage in the bottom of the third was a Berkey walk so the MoonDogs held a 4-0 lead after three innings.
However, the game got a little better for the Honkers, in the top of the fourth inning when Adam Fjerstad (Bethany Lutheran) pitched Rochester’s first 1-2-3 inning.
Andy Armstrong (Oregon State) hit a lead-off double to get the Flock’s offense going in the bottom of the fourth. He advanced to third base on a wild pitch and Tristan Peterson (New Mexico State) drew a walk to put runners on the corners.
Ryan Ober (Oregon State) then smacked a 333-feet, line-drive home run over the left field fence to bring the Honkers within one run, 4-3.
Josh Elvir was hit with a pitch and then stole second base in the top of the fifth inning, but Fjerstad struck out Tanner Craig and Dayton Dooney to end the inning.
Rochester’s offense kept their momentum going in the fifth when Evan Berkey (Cal State-Bakersfield) hit a single, Kyler McMahan (Oregon State) followed with a single, and both advanced a base on an error by MoonDogs’ third baseman Dooney.
Armstrong hit a two-run single into left field to give the Honkers a 5-4 lead heading into the sixth inning.
Ben Stassman (Rochester Community & Technical College), making his Honkers’ debut, retired the side in the top of the sixth inning.
Anthony Rodriguez (Monroe College) retired all six batters he faced throughout the seventh and eighth inning.
Keon Taylor (Georgetown College) retired all three batters, including a game-ending strikeout, he faced in the ninth inning to seal the win.
The win improves the Honkers’ second half record to 16-12 and their overall record is now 34-29.
Ober was named the Profile Sanford Player of the Game after smacking the big three-run home run that brought the Flock back in the game.
Rochester will conclude their homestand on Friday, August 2, when they face the Mankato MoonDogs at 6:35 p.m. After that, the Honkers travel to St. Cloud to take on the Rox on Saturday, August 3, at 6:05 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.