Honkers Score Early, Take Weekend Series
The Honkers took game three of the weekend 6-3 despite the offense only getting four hits.
In the final of three games at Mayo Field, the Border Cats scored first once again. Brandon Stennis started his outing with a strikeout of the leadoff man, but with two men on, Christian Correa gave Thunder Bay the 1-0 lead, scoring Jordan Serena from second. Reid Roper made sure Nick Studer did not drive in another, but had nowhere to throw for an out. The bases were loaded after the Studer infield hit and Stennis could not find the strike zone. On four pitches, Tyler Rolland walked for his 23rd RBI on the year and it was 2-0 after one half inning.
But just like in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader, Rochester scored in the first as well. With one out, Alex Schultz walked on five pitches. Schultz then took third on a two-base wild pitch with Reid Roper batting. Roper also walked on five pitches to give the Honkers first and third with one out. With Jordan Smith batting, Roper took off for second for his third stolen base on the season to give Smith two runners in scoring position. Smith hit a grounder to short, scoring Shultz. The throw from shortstop Jordan Serena pulled the first baseman off the bag and allowed Jordan Smith to reach.
With Jeff Campbell batting, Jordan Smith stole second base. The stolen base would not matter, however, when Jeff Campbell got a hold of the 2-1 offering for a three-run bomb to left. Campbell’s sixth homer of the season gave the Honkers the 4-2 lead.
The starters dueled for the rest of their outings. Brandon Stennis gave up one more on a Nick Studer solo homer to lead off the fifth and make the score just 4-3 Honkers. Stennis, in his third start for the Honkers, lasted five innings and allowed three runs on eight hits, walking three and striking out seven.
In the seventh inning, Thunder Bay brought Ben Allison in from the bullpen. Leadoff man Blaise Lezynski walked and was advanced to second on a Paker Guinn sacrifice bunt. After the second out, Ryan Boldt got an infield hit to the right side and Lezynski advanced to third. Again, the Honkers were aggressive on the basepaths, and again the runner was successful stealing second. Boldt’s 12th steal of the season gave Alex Schultz the chance to hit with runners on second and third. Schultz hit a single to left to score Lezynski from third. Ryan Boldt was sent around third as the ball was being fielded in left, but was safe at home as the throw was offline to give Shultz his 20th RBI of the season and the Honkers a 6-3 lead. The Honkers scored six runs in the ballgame with just four base hits.
Michael Freeman pitched three scoreless innings of relief, allowing just one hit and striking out three. In the ninth inning, the Honkers went to Ryne Roper to get the final three outs of the game. After a leadoff base hit past a diving Tanner Buenting, Roper struck out the side for his first save.
The Honkers will return to Mayo Field Monday night for a 7:05 p.m. matchup with the St. Cloud Rox. Nick Gruener will pitch for the Honkers, looking for his tenth win of the season.