ROCHESTER, MN — Unable to recapture last night’s magic, the Rochester Honkers (5-22), were challenged in each inning by St. Cloud Rox (16-11) pitching staff, only mustering five baserunners on the night while striking out 13 times in the 2-0 loss at home.
Rox starter Luke Albright was rolling through four innings, retiring the Honkers in order each time up. Were it not for a leadoff walk by Tanner Tweedt (Sacramento City) in the Fifth, each of the five frames Albright tossed would have gone down as 1-2-3 innings.
The Flock finally knocked Albright out in the Sixth, though, when Jacob Shaver (Arizona) worked a four-pitch walk. Shaver’s night at the plate was quietly one of his better performances of the season. Going one-for-two with a walk and a stolen base — only his second stolen bag of the 2020 campaign — Shaver bounced back from a five-game skid where he had not appeared on base.
Following Shaver in the eighth inning was Kyle Huckstorf (Iowa Western), who connected on a 1-2 fastball and blooped a single to center. It marked the first time in the game that the Honkers could get baserunners on back-to-back. “Huck” has now tallied hits in consecutive games following his four-for-four night last night.
We would be remiss not to mention the pitching effort on the Honkers’ end. Starter MacGregor Hines (Houston) and reliever Chris Stefl (St. John’s) put together their best performances of the season, going seven combined innings of shutout ball. Hines, making his second start against the Rox, steadied himself versus a lineup who had his number coming into tonight: the Rox hit Hines at a 14/33 mark this season, good for a .424 batting average. The righty would add three strikeouts to his season total of 15 (tied for fifth on the team with Stone Churby [Sacramento State]).
As for Stefl, the Red Storm lefty was making his final appearance of the 2020 Northwoods League season, and he gave it his all. The command on the offspeed pitches were there, which he utilized via the curve and slider to strikeout four of the seven batters he faced.
Tomorrow night, the Honkers will conclude the three-game home stand with a 6:05 pm CST first pitch against the Mankato MoonDogs. The contest marks the beginning of a home-and-home with the Flock’s in-state rival, as the two teams will conclude the season series with a Sunday matinee in Mankato.
“Honkers Pregame Live!” will start promptly at 6:00, where you will get set for all things Honkers and MoonDogs. Be sure to tune in at Portal.StretchInternet.com/NWLHonkers for the broadcast.
Do not forget 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