The Rochester Honkers (26-23, 8-7) traveled west to take on the best team in the Great Plains Division, the Willmar Stingers (34-13, 8-5), and they came out on top in a nail-citing 4-3 win. Daniel Willie (Montreat) got the ball for the Honkers, while Sam Malec (Minnesota) started for the Stingers.
Neither pitcher yielded a run through the first three innings, but that all changed in the fourth. Ben North (Creighton) led off with a towering 414-foot solo home run to give the Honkers the early lead.
Later in the inning, Ian Daugherty (Oklahoma State) came to the plate with two runners on and two outs. Daugherty promptly smacked a 3-run shot over the wall in left field to give the Honkers a 4-0 lead.
Although they were down, the Stingers wouldn’t quit as they got a run back in the fourth and two runs in the sixth to make it a 4-3 ballgame. Frank Craska (Quinnipiac) relieved Willie in the seventh inning and worked out of a few jams.
Craska tossed 2 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball, and his defense played a big part in that, turning three double plays during his time on the mound. With two outs in the ninth and the winning run at first base, Honkers pitching coach Benton Schweinfurth decided to make another move to the bullpen and bring in Sebastian Diaz (Concordia-Irvine).
Diaz got Stone Miyao (Hawaii) to pop up into the shallow left-center field. Neither center fielder Tyler White (Sacramento State) nor shortstop Brendan O’Sullivan (UNLV) called the ball, so out of nowhere, left fielder Kimo Fukofuka (San Jose State) dove and made a miraculous diving catch to end the game and give the Honkers their fourth straight win.
The Flock will return at it again Wednesday as they finish the series with the Stingers at Bill Taunton Stadium. First pitch is at 7:05 pm.