Four-Run Seventh Downs Geese in Willmar

WILLMAR, MINN. — A four-run seventh was the penultimate blow against the Rochester Honkers (2-5) on Tuesday night, as they dropped the first game of a two-game series with the Willmar Stingers (9-2), 7-4.

Two of the Honkers’ three previous matchups with Willmar started with Stingers getting on the board first. The pattern continued Tuesday as the home team struck first with an RBI groundout. Willmar added a pair of runs in the second to extend their early lead to 3-0.

Rochester struck back with a run of its own in the top of the third, when Connor Denning (Campbell) lined a single over the second baseman’s head to put the Honkers on the board.

The Team in Teal kept the momentum rolling in its half of the fifth, when the Honkers sent eight men to the plate. A Taison Corio (Cal Poly) walk followed by a Denning hit-by-pitch set the scene for Robert Moore (Arkansas), who plated a run on an RBI single. First baseman Bryce Matthews (Arkansas) followed with a loud two-run single, giving Rochester the lead at the halfway point.

AJ Campbell (Frostburg State) helped the Honkers cruise through the fifth and sixth innings before Rochester encountered seventh-inning trouble. After a lead-off walk and a passed ball put a runner on second, the Stingers began their late rally with an RBI double into the left-field corner. The next Willmar batter belted a two-run home run that snuck just inside the left-field foul pole to make it 6-4 Stingers, stealing the wind beneath the Honkers’ wings. Willmar added one more on another RBI groundout to stretch its lead to four, which would hold.

Rochester tallied five hits, none of which came after the fifth inning. Both Denning and Tanner Tweedt (Sacramento City College) extended their hit streaks to seven and five, respectively. The Honkers’ attempts at a late push for offensewere thwarted by the Willmar bullpen, which struck out seven Rochester batters in the final four innings.

The Honkers return to Bill Taunton Field in Willmar tomorrow night in hopes of splitting the two-game set with the Stingers. First pitch is at 7:05 pm CST. Tune in to Honkers Pregame Live presented by Rochester Toyota at 7:00 to get you set for the action.

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