An early lead and a solid start by Nick Gruener were not enough as Rochester dropped the penultimate home game of 2014 to St. Cloud 9-5. Reid Roper tied the all-time Rochester Honkers RBI record in the contest.

After a weekend series in which Honkers opponents struck first in all three ballgames, the Honkers took care of business. A leap by Jeff Campbell and the throw over retired the first batter. After a one-out single, Rochester starter Nick Gruener struck out the next two in order to complete the scoreless frame.

St. Cloud starter Matt Rodgers did not have quite an easy first. Honkers center fielder Ryan Boldt walked on five pitches. Boldt was not happy standing at first, however, and swiped second for his 13th stolen base of the season. The ball then squirted away from the Chris Paul covering the bag. Boldt was on third base when Jeff Campbell lifted one to center for the sacrifice fly and a 1-0 lead.

Jeff Campbell drives in the first run of the game.

In the second inning, the second batter was the first to reach. Corey Hassel singled through the left side and stole second base with Ryne Roper batting. Roper then grounded a ball to the shortstop that was thrown away.  After the throw got into right field, Hassel hustled around the bases and scored the second run of the game, again an unearned run. Roper ran into the out passing second base, misjudging how far the throw went into foul territory.

Ryan Boldt walked once again in the third inning, this time with one out. Boldt stole third base this time after an Alex Schultz walk advanced him to second. Reid Roper then tied the all-time Rochester Honkers RBI mark with a sacrifice fly to allow Ryan Boldt to score once again. The third run of the game for Rochester was the first earned run against Matt Rodgers. Rodgers gave up another leadoff walk in the fifth, this time to Parker Guinn. After Ryan Boldt singled one up the middle off the glove of Paul, it was the end of the day for Matt Rodgers.

Trevor Charpie came in and allowed a single up the middle that scored Parker Guinn and gave Rochester a 4-0 lead. Rodgers was charged with four runs, half of them earned, on two hits and two walks, and he struck out three in 4.1 innings.

Nick Gruener was then ambushed a bit in the sixth inning. With one out, the St. Cloud Rox got three straight hits, capped of by a Seth Heck double to right-center that scored Clay Ardeeser and Kade Scivicque and cut the Honkers lead to 4-2.

Nick Gruener was lifted after six innings, giving up two runs on six hits, walking a batter, hitting a batter, and striking out four St. Cloud Rox batters.

The Honkers then called on Will Bamesberger in relief. Bamesberger retired the side in order in the seventh, but Clay Ardeeser was not going to be his fourth victim.  Ardeeser launched the second offering of the eighth inning to left for a solo home run. Kade Scvicque then walked and was advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and scampered to third on a passed ball. Liam Bedford, who came into the game in the sixth inning delivered a single in his first at-bat to score Scivique and tie the game at 4-4.

A base hit and a hit batter then loaded the bases with one out and the game tied. The Rox then pinch hit for their leadoff batter, sending Morgan Philllips to the plate. The second St. Cloud substitution doubled to left field, driving in three runs and taking the lead from Rochester. Two wild pitches from Bamesberger allowed Phillips to take two more bases and an 8-4 lead for St. Cloud. A four-pitch walk and Bamesberger’s day was over. Bamesberger gave up six runs on four hits, a walk, and a hit batsman while recording five outs in the game.

Still 8-4 after eight innings, both teams scored one run in the ninth. For the Honkers, Corey Hassel connected for ninth home run. The Honkers fell by a final of 9-5.

Both teams will take Tuesday off before returning to Mayo Field for the final regular season home game for the Honkers on Wednesday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.