MANKATO, MINN. — The Rochester Honkers (2-4) employed early offense and plus pitching to defeat the Mankato MoonDogs (0-4) on Monday night, 5-4.
Rochester wasted no time in starting their engines, sending nine men to the plate in the top of the first inning. A lead-off double by left fielder Connor Denning (Campbell) and a walk by shortstop Robert Moore (Arkansas) set the scene for sophomore first baseman Bryce Matthews (Arkansas), who sent a moonshot over the right-field video board to give the Honkers a 3-0 cushion.
Catcher Tanner Tweedt (Sacramento City College) walked and right fielder Ryan Wrobleski (Dallas Baptist) doubled him to third to put two runners in scoring position with no outs just five batters into the first frame. Taison Corio (Cal Poly) drove Tweedt home with a single into left, extending the Rochester lead to four.
After Mankato plated their first run in the bottom of the first on a throwing error, the Team in Teal added an insurance run in the fourth:. Moore drove Logan Sanders (Pima Community College) home from third on a sacrifice fly to make it 5-1, Rochester.
Mankato hung in with offense of its own, striking for a run in both the fourth and fifth innings to shrink the Honkers’ lead to two. After a fourth run came across for the MoonDogs in the seventh, the Rochester bullpen flexed its muscles to thwart the comeback attempt.
Junior reliever Stone Churby (Sacramento State) pitched two strong innings in late relief, surrendering zero hits or runs to keep the Honkers’ lead intact. Kragen Kechely (Dallas Baptist) closed it out in the ninth, retiring the MoonDogs in order to seal the victory.
The Honkers were aided by a strong start from sophomore Eli Saul (Sacramento State), who in three innings, allowed just two hits and struck out two MoonDogs. However, junior Jack Zalasky (Sacramento State) was awarded the win after going two innings and giving up two runs, neither earned.
Rochester returns to Mankato on Tuesday night in hopes of sweeping the short series against its division rival. 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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