The Rochester Honkers (17-14) went on the road and took down the Mankato MoonDogs (18-14) in another rivalry series. The Honkers moved into a tie for second place in the Great Plains East with the Thunder Bay Border Cats (16-13) and are just a game behind the Eau Claire Express (18-13) for first place as they won 4-2.
Mankato got the scoring started in the first inning as Kai Roberts (Utah) doubled off Daniel Willie (Montreat) leading off the inning. A ground out moved him over, another ground out got him and the MoonDogs snagged the early 1-0 lead.
For the next four innings, both teams were kept scoreless. Willie and Jake Riding (Fresno State) were superb, and neither faltered much during the start.
With one out in the top of the seventh inning, Mankato’s manager, Danny Kneeling, made a call to the bullpen and replaced Riding with Grant Garza (Tarleton State). Garza easily struck out Kyle Fossum (Washington) for the second out of the inning.
Then Ben North (Creighton) came to the plate, and Garza fell behind in the count 3-0. North got the green light and didn’t miss it, crushing a letter-high fastball over the left field wall and into the parking lot, giving Rochester a 2-1 lead.
Finally having a lead for the first time all season, Willie retired the MoonDogs in order in the seventh and was relieved by Corbin Barker (UC Riverside) in the eighth. Barker got through unscathed, and the Honkers were in search of some insurance runs in the top of the ninth.
Petey Craska (Georgia Tech) flew out to begin the inning, but then Ian Daugherty (Oklahoma State) was hit by a pitch, Fossum walked, and North was hit by a pitch to load the bases. The next batter, Jakob Guardado (Pasadena City College), walked, bringing home Daugherty, and Paul Schoenfeld (Colorado Mesa) hit a sacrifice fly, bringing home Fossum to give the Honkers a 4-1 lead.
Barker came back out for the bottom of the ninth and, despite allowing a run, closed the door and earned the save as the Honkers continued to move up the division standings.
The Honkers play again tomorrow at home against the Mankato MoonDogs. First pitch is scheduled for 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.