(Rochester, Minn.)–  The Honkers lost to the Duluth Huskies, 8-7, at Mayo Field on Wednesday night, in a close one to start the second half of the season.

Nick Gruener (Harvard) struggled in the opening game of the second half in the Northwoods League season on Wednesday. Gruener dealt with some trouble early in the ballgame. With two outs in the top of the first inning, Vinnie Rodriguez (Montevallo) singled to center field to score the game’s first run. Gruener got into more trouble in the second inning, again with two outs. With runners on first and second base, Austin Christensen (Nebraska) doubled in two runs and the Huskies led into the bottom of the second inning, 3-0.

The Honkers answered the Huskies two-run second with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning. Jeff Campbell (North Dakota) led the inning off with a single, extending his hit streak to 13 games – the longest in the Northwoods League this season.

Duluth led by just a run headed into the fifth inning, but threatened to extend their lead against Gruener. With one out, the Huskies loaded the bases for Alex Michaels (Cal Poly) who slugged his first home run this season, a grand slam, to put the Huskies ahead by five runs, 7-2. The home run forced the Honkers to make a pitching change and Ryan Bower (Allan Hancock College) relieved Gruener. In Gruener’s 4.1 innings, he allowed seven runs on eight hits and three walks was handed his second loss of the season. 

If the Honkers wanted to win, it would require another comeback. Rochester used a four-run seventh to climb back into the game. In the inning, the Honkers collected four hits, including a two-run double by Corey Hassel (Oklahoma State). Hassel would eventually score with two outs on a single by Parker Guinn (Washington) to pull them back within one run of Duluth’s lead.

The Huskies retaliated in the top of the eighth inning, pulling ahead by another run, 8-6, after a leadoff walk came around to score on a single by shortstop Trent Chatterton (California, Los Angeles).

The lead was cut to a single run once more after catcher Travis Hull (Chabot College) scored from third base on a balk from reliever Ryan Agnitisch (Southern Illinois Edwardsville). But that’s where the score would stay and the Honkers dropped their second game in a row.

Tonight, the Honkers and the Huskies play again to finish their two-game series in Rochester. Spencer Greer (Western Nevada Community College) will start Thursday’s game for the Honkers, seeking his fourth win this season. Immediately following the game, Mayo Field will also host a fireworks extravaganza for the fans in attendance. For ticket information, visit rochesterhonkers.com.

Courtesy: Andy Sroka rochesterhonkers.com