The Rochester Honkers (1-0) opened up their 30th anniversary season on a high note as they used a collective offensive effort, buoyed by a strong start from Jon Rossi (Roanoke College), to defeat the Waterloo Bucks (0-1) on Opening Day of the 2023 Northwoods League season.
The game was scoreless through the first three innings as Rossi (1-0) retired the first nine Bucks hitters in order, while Waterloo’s starter Seth White (Santa Barbara City College) (0-1) held Rochester to just two hits through three frames. The home team, playing in front of 1,280 fans on Opening Day at Riverfront Stadium, opened the scoring in the bottom of the fourth inning on a two-run home run by designated hitter Drake Westcott (Illinois).
The Honkers struck right back in the next half-inning, scratching across two runs on three hits. Two new faces to Rochester, Alec Gomez (Orange Coast College), and Jared Davis (TCU), recorded RBI base hits to tie the game at two.
In the top of the sixth inning, Petey Craska (Georgia Tech) recorded his first career Honkers hit with a double down the right field line to give Rochester a lead they would not relinquish. Returning outfielders Jakob Guardado (Pasadena City College) and Menelik Israel (Duke) added RBI singles in the inning. Rochester would add another insurance run in the ninth inning courtesy of an opposite-field hit from fellow returner Kimo Fukofuka (San Jose State).
Dylan Tostrup (University of Southern California), who relieved Rossi after he went six innings, breezed through the seventh and eighth innings allowing just one baserunner.
The lefty did run into some trouble in the ninth inning as he allowed one run and loaded the bases with two outs. In front of a raucous home crowd at Riverfront Stadium, Tostrup struck out Greg Nichols with a slider on a 2-2 count to end the game and give the Honkers a 1-0 start to the 2023 summer season.
Rossi picked up the win, pitching six innings while allowing just two runs on two hits with five strikeouts and one walk. Tostrup was credited with the save after going three innings to end the game.
Rochester got strong offensive performances from catcher Griffen Sotomayor (Washington State), who recorded three hits, and third-year Honkers outfielder Nico Regino (Charleston Southern), who knocked two hits and reached base three times.
The Honkers will make the trip back to Waterloo, Iowa, tomorrow on Tues, May 30, to finish their two-game road series before heading back to Mayo Field in Rochester, MN, for a five-game homestand. The scheduled first pitch time on Tues is 6:35 p.m.
The Rochester Honkers began their 30th season of play on May 29th. Keep up with the team on social media by following them on Twitter (@RochHonkers) and Instagram (@honkersbaseball) and like the Honkers on Facebook at Rochester Honkers Baseball Club. Interact on social by using the hashtag #FunForTheWholeFlock!
The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. Now in its’ 30th season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 24 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires, and front office staff, over 310 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time All-Star and 2016 Roberto Clemente Award winner Curtis Granderson, three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series Champion Max Scherzer (NYM), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and World Series Champion Chris Sale (BOS). As well as 2019 Rookie of the Year and 2019/2021 Home Run Derby Champion Pete Alonso (NYM) and 2021 All-Star, MLB Gold Glove winner and 2019 Second Team All-MLB shortstop Marcus Semien (TEX). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website at watchnwl.com and on ESPN+. For more information, visit www.northwoodsleague.com or download the Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play.