ROCHESTER, MINN. — Second baseman Taison Corio (Cal Poly) provided the fireworks in extra innings on Thursday night, capping off a back-and-forth affair with a two-run, walk-off double into the right-field gap to give the Rochester Honkers (3-6) the win over the Mankato MoonDogs (2-10), 7-6.
Taison Corio (7) of the Rochester Honkers follows through on a swing in a Northwoods League contest between the Rochester Honkers and Mankato MoonDogs on Thursday, July 16, 2020. (Dave Tester/Rochester Honkers)
The game-winning hit came just moments after Mankato took a 6-5 lead in the top of the 10th, when Bryce Matthews (Arkansas) lost a ball in the lights, but made an on-target throw to the plate from left field that popped out of the mitt of catcher Ryan Wrobleski (Dallas Baptist).
The wind beneath the Honkers’ wings — and in the sails of the capacity-250 fans in attendance at Mayo Field on Thursday night — suddenly disappeared, even after a ninth-inning, game-tying groundout by Connor Denning (Campbell) sent the game to extras.
Rochester started the bottom of the 10th inning with Wrobleski on second base, as per the rules of Northwoods League play in additional frames. Steven Moretto grounded into a 1-5-4-1 fielder’s choice before advancing to second while Wrobleski was caught in a rundown. Third baseman Jacob Shaver (Arizona) walked to put runners on first and second. A passed ball moved both runners into scoring position with Kyle Huckstorf (Iowa Western CC) at the plate, who eventually went down on strikes.
Then, with two out and down 0-1, Corio played hero.
“I was just watching the pitcher from the dugout,” Corio said. “I didn’t want to chase something that he wanted me to swing at. (He) left one up, and (I) just took advantage of it.”
Rochester set the tone early, scoring a run in the bottom of the first on an errant throw on a bunt single by Robert Moore (Arkansas).
Mankato surged back in the third and fourth innings, combining for five runs. The MoonDogs tallied four in the fourth after an RBI single, a bases-loaded walk, and a two-run double.
The Honkers responded hastily, plating three runs in the fifth to creep within a run at 5-4. The teetering and tottering of the ninth and tenth innings ensued, and Rochester wound up on top.
The Rochester bullpen proved it was up to the task, as the final three relievers combined for five strong innings of one-run ball. Neither Garrett Kellogg-Clarke (Nevada), Stone Churby (Sacramento State) or Kragen Kechely (Dallas Baptist) allowed an earned run, and the trio combined for six strikeouts.
The Honkers will look to remain in the win column against Mankato again tomorrow, as they take on the MoonDogs for the second game in a two-game set. First pitch is at 7:05, with Honkers Pregame Live presented by Rochester Toyota airing at 7:00 to get you ready for all the action.
Be sure to connect with the Honkers on social media by liking them on Facebook and following them on twitter @RochHonkers and Instagram @HonkersBaseball. Join the conversation by using the hashtag #UnlockTheFlock!