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Offense Sputters as Honkers Swept in Willmar

WILLMAR, MINN. —The Rochester Honkers (2-6) continued their early struggles against the Willmar Stingers (10-2) on Wednesday night, dropping the second game of a two-game set, 5-1.

Willmar continued its trend of getting on the board early and often, when the Stingers sent three runs across the plate in the first inning. Honkers’ starter Tanner Cuhna (Nevada) seemed to be off to a strong start when he retired the first Willmar batter on one pitch. A walk and a hit batsmen complicated things in the early going — both runners came around to score on an RBI single and an error, respectively.

The Stingers tacked another early tally on when they capitalized on a bases-loaded opportunity with the second RBI single of the inning.

The Honkers offense began and ended in the fourth, when shortstop Robert Moore (Arkansas) opened the frame with a lead-off triple. Ryan Wrobleski swiftly brought Moore home on an RBI groundout to the second baseman, closing the book on Rochester’s scoring efforts.

Willmar added a pair of insurance runs in its half of the fourth, in which six Stingers came to the plate. Two run-scoring singles opened the Stingers lead to four, where it would stay for the remainder of the night.

Rochester’s bullpen had a bounce-back outing after allowing four runs in relief in Tuesday night’s 7-4 loss. Chris Stefl (St. John’s) went 2.2 strong innings, fanning three and walking just one. Jack Zalasky (Sacramento State) and MacGregor Hines (Houston) combined for two scoreless innings of relief, striking out a combined four Stingers.

Honker left fielder Pearce Howard (New Orleans) impressed with a lead-off triple in the fifth and a single in the ninth, his first two knocks in a Rochester uniform. While Connor Denning’s (Campbell) and Tanner Tweedt’s (Sacramento City College) hitting streaks were snapped at seven and five, respectively, Moore notched a two-hit performance with his aforementioned triple and a first-inning single.

The Honkers will look to right the ship tomorrow night when they play host to the Mankato MoonDogs for the first game at Mayo Field in nearly two weeks. First pitch is at 6:35, with the Northwoods League Pregame Show airing at 6:15 to get you ready for all the action.

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