WILLMAR, MINN. — The Rochester Honkers pitching staff struggled to limit the Willmar Stingers in the run column for the second-consecutive night, surrendering 10 runs over the first six innings en route to a 10-4 loss on Sunday.
As they did on Saturday night, the Stingers struck first, this time with two runs in the opening frame on a pair of fielder’s choices.
Unlike Saturday night, the Honkers responded quickly with a solo home run off the bat of designated hitter Tanner Tweedt (Dallas Baptist), his second in as many days — he laced a grand slam in the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon — to make it 2-1.
The two division rivals went back-and-forth over the next two half innings, with the Stingers tallying their third run in the bottom of the second on a wacky play that involved two Honkers errors. Rochester countered when Tweedt picked up his second RBI of the night on a sacrifice fly to make it 3-2.
The big blow came shortly after, when Willmar combined for seven runs between the fifth and sixth innings. The scoring frenzy was capped off by a grand slam to punctuate a five-run sixth in which Rochester walked four Stingers.
The Honkers toyed with a comeback attempt in the seventh, when they plated two on a Taison Corio (Cal Poly) solo shot and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Steven Moretto (Sacramento State), but Willmar pitching put a halt to it by allowing just one hit over the final two innings.
Connor Denning (Campbell) continued his hot start to the Northwoods League season, registering at least one hit for each of the five games Rochester has played this year. The Phoenix, Ariz. native improved his batting average to .529 after adding two more hits to his already-impressive 2020 resume. Denning tore his way through Willmar, going a scorching 7-for-11 at the plate, driving in one run and walking three times.
Sophomore shortstop Robert Moore (Arkansas) had an impressive night, registering a double and a hard-hit single in a 3-for-5 effort that extended his hitting streak to four games.
Zero of the five Rochester pitchers went more than three innings. Right-handed starter MacGregor Hines (Dallas Baptist) was the only Honkers hurler to go at least three, receiving the loss after allowing three runs (two earned) on two hits, a walk, and a strikeout.
The Honkers look to right the ship on Monday night in Mankato in their first matchup of the season against the Mankato MoonDogs. First pitch is at 6:35 pm CST from Franklin Rogers Park. Tune in to Honkers Pregame Live presented by Rochester Toyota at 6:30 to get you set for the action.
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