MANKATO, MINN. — In a game that seemingly had hundreds of twists and turns, the Rochester Honkers (4-11) were walked off on Friday night by the Mankato MoonDogs (7-12) at Franklin Rogers Park to take the first game of a three-game weekend series, 6-5.
The Honkers entered the bottom of the ninth with a one-run lead. A bases-loaded walk by Mankato knotted the score at five before Zach Gilles (Central Michigan) lined a single into the gap in left-center off Rochester native T. Palmer Mickelson (Rochester Community and Technical College) to send the MoonDogs faithful home happy.
Rochester Honkers pitcher T. Palmer Mickelson (27) delivers a pitch in a game against the Waterloo Bucks at Mayo Field in Rochester, Minn. on July 22, 2020. (Dave Tester/Rochester Honkers)
Rochester played one of its most complete games of the season aside from the ninth-inning slide. The Honkers broke into the scoring column first when Connor Denning (Campbell) drove in a run an RBI double.
The 1-0 score held until Mankato’s half of the fourth, when the MoonDogs plated two on a pair of RBI singles. To that point, Honkers starting pitcher MacGregor Hines (Houston) was masterful. The righty cruised through his first three innings, retiring 11 of the first 13 men he faced and throwing just 39 pitches in that span. Hines exited trailing, 2-1.
It didn’t take Rochester long to counter and regain the lead. In the top of the sixth, catcher Tanner Tweedt (Sacramento City College) walked before a Denning single. Right fielder Ryan Wrobleski (Dallas Baptist) drove Tweedt home with an RBI double to center field to tie the ballgame at two apiece. With Denning on third, Steven Moretto (Sacramento State) sent a high drive to right field that was caught just shy of the warning track to score the leading run and make it 3-2, Honkers.
Mankato struck back immediately, tagging the Rochester bullpen for two runs on a sharp groundout and an RBI single to take a 4-3 lead.
Rochester wasn’t finished, though, adding tallies in the seventh and eighth innings to assert a 5-4 cushion.
Before the stretch, Robert Moore (Arkansas) singled with one away in the inning and stole second base. That set the stage for Denning once again, who, after a Rochester strikeout and walk, promptly scored Moore from second on a single to right. The Team in Teal gained the lead in the eighth, when it was Moore who drove Jacob Shaver (Arizona) home with a two-out single.
There was no action in the bottom of the eighth or top of the ninth before Mankato walked it off.
Denning registered his first three-hit night since July 4 against the Willmar Stingers. The outfielder from Phoenix drove in two while collecting an extra-base hit, a double, in the loss.
Moore extended his hitting streak to five games with a two-hit performance. The Razorback has now reached base safely in 14 of the 15 Northwoods League games he’s played in this season.
Wrobleski collected two hits in a game for the first time since July 6, also against the MoonDogs. The Minnesota native stole a bag in the game as well.
Reliever Kragen Kechely (Dallas Baptist) continued his hot start, turning in 1.1 innings of three-hit ball.
The Honkers return to Mayo Field in search of revenge against the MoonDogs in the first Saturday night home game of the season. First pitch is at 6:05 p.m., with Honkers Pregame Live presented by Rochester Toyota airing shortly before first pitch to get you set 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!