After a 5:00 a.m. wake-up call and an eight-hour bus ride, the Rochester Honkers (19-18, 1-2) took care of business against the Thunder Bay Border Cats (17-18, 0-3) and defeated them 15-5. The Honkers’ offense exploded in the first two innings and never looked back.
With two outs and two men on in the top of the first inning, Ben North (Creighton) came to the plate and crushed a 3-run home run to give the Honkers the lead in the early going. It was a no-doubter for his fifth round-tripper of the year.
In the top of the second, Thunder Bay starter Peyton Leon (Grayson College) retired the first two batters he faced and then allowed seven hitters to reach base. The Honkers scored four more runs in the inning and took a 7-0 lead after two frames.
The offense fell silent for the next two innings, but Honkers’ starting pitcher Cole Seward (Colorado Mesa) put on a clinic tossing six shutout innings and striking out five while walking just one. His fastball had pinpoint accuracy and mixed his speeds well as the Border Cats mustered only six hits against him.
The offense added to their lead later in the game, scoring two in the fifth and one in the sixth. Rochester led 10-0 heading into the seventh, and Ben North struck again. At this point, North was a triple shy of the cycle and already had four RBIs on the day.
He came to the plate with the bases loaded, promptly hit a grand slam for his second home run of the day, and put the Honkers ahead 15-0. The offense was a firecracker and displayed what the team has the potential to do moving forward.
Zach Gwost (Dakota County Technical College) came in to relieve Seward and had a rough inning. He retired the first two batters he faced and then allowed a double and two consecutive walks to load the bases. He walked in a run and allowed a bases-clearing triple to Tyler Kehoe (South Alabama), which cut the lead to 15-5.
The Honkers did not give up another run from then on out and earned their first victory of the second half. Rochester is in action tomorrow for game two of the four-game set against Thunder Bay. First pitch is at 7:35 p.m. Eastern.
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.