ROCHESTER, MN — Mayo Field was the site of the middle game in the three-game series between the Mankato MoonDogs (8-12) and the Rochester Honkers (4-12) and also host to one of the strangest first innings one might see.
Honkers starting pitcher Chris Stefl (0-2, St. John’s) made his first appearance at home and was promptly welcomed in the top of the first when, with two outs, Jake Thompson drove one deep to left centerfield that outfielder Kyle Huckstorf (Iowa Western Community) adamantly claimed to catch, but no signal from the second base umpire gave reason for both Thompson and the preceding baserunner Dylan Phillips to sprint home.
In front of a capacity crowd that likely was not even settled in their seats, the Honkers jogged off the field under the assumption that the frame had ended while the MoonDogs had two players still taking practice swings, thinking they were due up.
After a brief meeting among the umpire crew — and another that included Honkers manager Deskaheh Bomberry — the home run call stood. Stefl would force the ensuing hitter to ground out, but the damage had been done, and the Honkers never completely recovered.
It would be another five innings before the Honkers would muster a run, albeit scoring two, but by that point, the ‘Dogs had scored six, making it a 6-2 game.
In the sixth, the Flock put together their best offense frame. Ryan Wrobleski (Dallas Baptist) and Bryce Matthews (Arkansas) singled on consecutive pitches to put runners on first and second with no outs. Three batters later, Steven Moretto loaded the bases with a single of his own. Logan Sanders (Pima Community) would keep things rolling with a single up the middle of his own, scoring Wrobleski and Matthews. Sanders’ 2/3 night at the plate with two runs driven in marked his first multi-hit night and multi-RBI night for the Team in Teal.
Another bright spot was reliever A.J. Campbell (Frostburg State), who tossed three innings of one-hit ball. The defense stepped up behind him, too, as middle infielders Robert Moore (Arkansas) and Taison Corio (Cal Poly) worked together on two putouts in the period.
The Team in Teal returns to action tomorrow in Mankato for the finale of this three-game home-home-and-home series. First pitch is set for 1:05. Tune in to Honkers Pregame Live at 1:00, which will get you set for the contest, at www.Mixlr.com/HonkersBroadcast.
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!
By Simon Williams