Nick Gruener is strong but the bullpen allows Rox to surge late into the lead, win

photo courtesy Rochester Honkers

(Rochester, Minn.) – On Monday, the Honkers began their final home series of the regular season, welcoming the Rox to Mayo Field for two games today and Wednesday. The Honkers clung to a lead for most of the game, but a disastrous seventh put the Rox into the lead and they were able to hang on, 9-5.

In the bottom of the first, Ryan Boldt (Nebraska) reached third base with no one out after a lead-off walk, stolen base and error. Later in the inning, Jeff Campbell (North Dakota) hit a fly ball to center field that was deep enough to score Boldt from third, helping the Honkers to an early 1-0 lead.

Nick Gruener (Harvard), the Honkers’ starter, was quickly moving through the Rox’s lineup, even getting more run support from his team in the bottom of the second. A single and a stolen base from Corey Hassel (Oklahoma State) allowed him to get into scoring position for Honkers shortstop Ryne Roper (Illinois). Roper tapped a ground ball to Rox starter Matt Rodgers (Evansville) who promptly threw the ball over the head of his first baseman, allowing Hassel to score from second base and giving Gruener a two-run lead to pitch with.

The Honkers added a third run in the third inning on a sacrifice fly from Reid Roper (Illinois). Roper scored Boldt who stole third base – his second stolen base of the night and his 14th of the summer. And through three innings, the Honkers’ maneuvered three runs on just one hit.

A couple of hits in the fifth inning pushed the Honkers into a four-run lead. With runners on first and third base, Alex Schultz (Nebraska Omaha) singled up the middle and underneath the glove of reliever Trevor Charpie (Tennessee) to score the Honkers’ fourth.

Gruener got into his first bit of trouble in the top of the sixth inning with runners on second and third base with just one out. Seth Heck (Mississippi State) stepped up to the plate and lined a double into the right center field gap to score both runners in scoring position to cut the Honkers’ lead in half, 4-2. His night would end after retiring the rest of the side in the sixth; he allowed both runs on six hits, one walk and four strikeouts, still in line for the win.

After a scoreless seventh from Honkers reliever Will Bamesberger (Creighton), Bamesberger allowed the Rox to get back within a run of the tie after Clay Ardeeser (Georgia College) launched a solo home run – his sixth of the summer and first since July 28 back at Mayo Field. The Rox completed the come back following the home run in the eighth, too.

Bamesberger walked Kade Scivicque (Louisiana State) after Ardeeser’s homer and a sacrifice bunt moved Scivicque to second base. Bamesberger worked a full count to Will Craig (Wake Forest), but Craig won the battle and singled in Scivicque to tie the game at four.

Later in the inning, the Rox loaded the bases with Bamesberger still on the mound for pinch-hitter Morgan Phillips (College of Charleston). Phillips smacked a double into the left field corner, clearing the bases and giving St. Cloud a 7-4 lead. A run-scoring wild pitch ended Bamesberger’s evening, but the Honkers eventually got a third out in the inning, though they now trailed by four runs, 8-4, with just six outs left to climb back.

The Rox added to their lead in the top of the ninth after an RBI single from catcher Charles Galiano (Fordham), handing the Rox a five-run lead headed into the bottom of the ninth where the Honkers were looking for their first hit since the fifth inning.

Corey Hassel (Oklahoma State) hit his ninth home run of the season in the bottom of the ninth but it would be the lone hit the Honkers could muster in the inning as they dropped Monday’s game, 9-5, to St. Cloud.

Tonight, Ryan Boldt, Jeff Campbell, Matt Kent and Ryne Roper will make their way to Madison, Wis., to participate in this year’s Northwoods League Showcase. On Wednesday, the Honkers will play their final home game of the regular season against the Rox once more. Ticket information can be found at rochesterhonkers.com.

Courtesy: rochesterhonkers.com