ST. CLOUD, MINN. — A strong pitching performance from the St. Cloud Rox (12-10) was too much for the Rochester Honkers (4-17) in the second game of a two-game series at Joe Faber Field on Thursday night, as the Team in Teal went down 4-2.
Honkers starting pitcher MacGregor Hines (Houston) impressed early, mixing his pitches and attacking the strike zone to keep the Rox scoreless through four innings. Between the second and fourth innings, the righty faced one batter over the minimum, totaling three strikeouts and just two fly outs in that span.
St. Cloud right-hander Luke Albright (Kent State) matched Hines pitch for pitch, eventually turning in five strong innings en route to his first win of the season. Albright held the Honkers hitless through 4.1 innings before Tanner Tweedt (Sacramento City College) broke up the no-no attempt with a one-out single.
Rochester got on the board first in the fifth inning, when Kyle Huckstorf (Iowa Western CC) worked his way around the bases by reaching on a fielder’s choice, getting to third on a Pearce Howard (New Orleans) single, and crossing the plate on a wild pitch to make it 1-0, Honkers.
Hines ran into an offensive barrage by St. Cloud in its half of the fifth, when the Rox started the inning with three consecutive singles to load the bases. Lead-off hitting second baseman Nick Marinconz (Cal Poly) drove two runs home on the ensuing at-bat with a two-run double to put St. Cloud in front, 2-1. The Rox crossed two more in the inning on a sacrifice fly and an RBI double to make it 4-1.
The Honkers tacked another tally on in the sixth thanks to some small ball. Ryan Wrobleski (Dallas Baptist) was drilled by a pitch, advanced to second on an error, stole third and scored on another wild pitch to bring Rochester within a pair.
The Flock compiled some late offense in the seventh, when it seemed almost sure that Rochester would score again. Tweedt opened the inning with a single, and a duo of walks by Taison Corio (Cal Poly) and Connor Denning (Campbell) loaded the bases with two away to bring Bryce Matthews (Arkansas) to the plate. The rising Razorback sophomore flew out to left, stranding three Honkers runners.
Jack Zalasky (Sacramento State) was sensational once again, appearing for the second time against the Rox. The Hornets reliever entered with a runner on second and two outs, and promptly punched out the first batter he faced. Zalasky has now recorded a strikeout in each of the eight games he’s pitched in, and has not been replaced in the middle of an inning all season. Zalasky turned in his sixth consecutive scoreless outing, lowering his ERA to 1.80.
Kragen Kechely (Dallas Baptist) also turned heads out of the bullpen, recording two scoreless innings to remain unscathed on the season. Kechely has now thrown 12 innings in relief and allowed zero earned runs and struck out 10 this season.
The Honkers will enjoy two much-needed off days on Friday and Saturday before getting back to baseball at Mayo Field on Monday against the Willmar Stingers. First pitch on is set for 6:35 p.m. from Rochester, with Honkers Pregame Live presented by Rochester Toyota scheduled to air at 6:30 to get you set for 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!
by Jordan Lank // Jordan Lank is in his first season as Director of Media Relations for the Rochester Honkers.