A big first inning keeps the Honkers in front

A long Jeff Campbell homer in the first gets Honkers the lead and they never looked back

Photo courtesy Rochester Honkers

(Rochester, Minn.)– In the final game between the Thunder Bay Border Cats and the Rochester Honkers of the season, the Honkers defeated the Border Cats, 6-3, even though they were outhit.

For the third-consecutive game against the Honkers, the Border Cats jumped to an early lead in the first inning. Thunder Bay catcher Christian Correa (Nicholls State) singled in a run to open the scoring and Honkers starter Brandon Stennis (Doane College) walked in a run with the bases loaded to give the Border Cats a 2-0 lead.

This time, the Honkers were quick to answer the Border Cats in the bottom half of the inning. With runners on second and third base, Jordan Serena (Columbia) committed a throwing error to help the Honkers cut their deficit in half, 2-1. Jeff Campbell (North Dakota) stepped up to the plate later in the inning with two on and one out and he crushed a three-run home run way over the left field fence to push the Honkers to a 4-2 advantage – it was Campbell’s sixth home run this season.

In the fourth, the Border Cats seriously threatened to dig into the Honkers’ lead with the bases loaded and nobody out; but Stennis pitched out of it, retiring the following three batters with the two-run lead intact.

The Border Cats did cut into the Honkers’ lead in the fifth, however, when Stennis allowed a long home run to his college teammate Nick Studer (Doane College) to get Thunder Bay back within one run of the tie.

In the bottom of the seventh with two outs and runners on second and third base, Alex Schultz (Nebraska Omaha) collected Rochester’s fourth hit of the game, a single to left field, scoring two more Honkers runs.

Michael Freeman (Oklahoma State), who relieved Stennis in the sixth, returned to the mound in the eighth to continue his dominance over the Border Cats. Stennis finished the day pitching five innings allowing three runs on eight hits, three walks and struck out seven.

Despite being outhit 10-4 Sunday afternoon, Honkers pitching limited the damage to hold onto their lead earned in the bottom of the first inning. Ryne Roper (Illinois) came on to record the ninth’s final three outs and his first save of the season. He did so pitching around a lead-off single and striking out the side to complete the Honkers’ Sunday win, 6-3, over the Border Cats.

Monday, the Honkers will host the St. Cloud Rox for a 7:05 p.m. ballgame. Nick Gruener (Harvard) will make his 10th start of the season Monday night, looking for his fifth win and second against St. Cloud. Ticket information can also be found at rochesterhonkers.com.

Courtesy: Andy Sroka