Honkers Walk Off In Home Finale
Rochester played their final home game of the season, winning an extra inning contest by a final score of 6-3. Matt Kent pitched nine strong innings of three-run ball, striking out eight St. Cloud batters. Reid Roper made Honkers history in his last game at Mayo Field, setting the all-time RBI mark and then cranking a three-run homer to walk the Honkers off in their last home game of the season.
Despite two walks in the bottom of the first inning, there were no first inning runs for either team in the opening frame. With Jeff Campbell batting, the Honkers tried a double steal. The throw got Alex Schultz at second base and Ryan Boldt moved to third base. Campbell then grounded out for the third out of the inning.
St. Cloud got the offense going in the third inning. Liam Bedford led off the inning with a single. A bunt with nobody covering first gave Eric Loxtercamp an infield single for two on and nobody out. Morgan Phillips then tried to advance the runners with another bunt, but Parker Guinn was having none of that. The ball bouncing in front of him, Guinn picked it up and threw to third to force out the lead runner. Jeff Campbell at third fired across the diamond to fist base, and Reid Roper received the throw for the second out. With two out in the inning, Chris Paul then broke up the scoreless tie, with a double of the wall to score Loxtercamp. Kent struck out the next man to get out of the inning with just a 1-0 deficit.
St. Cloud starter Nick Jensen-Clagg held the Honkers hitless through four before Jordan Smith led of the fifth with a single. Corey Hassel pulled the next pitch down the third base line just fair to score Smith and tie the game at 1-1 with a double. A pair of walks loaded the bases, but the opportunity was wasted, and the game remained tied.
Matt Kent struck out the next batter he faced after the third-inning run and retired the side in order for the next three innings. Kent retired one more to make it 11 straight batters retired in the ballgame. Seth Heck then ended the streak for the Rox with a single down the left field line. The 1-1 tie was taken away next on a blast off the bat of Will Craig. The Craig homer put St. Cloud ahead 3-1.
Mark Handberg led off the bottom of the seventh with a hard hit ball past shortstop for a single. After recording one out in the inning, Nick Jensen-Clagg was taken from the game in favor of Nick Denny. Denny was chased from the game when a Ryne Roper single and a walk to Ryan Boldt loaded the bases. Another call to the bullpen brought in Kevin Burgee for the Rox.
Alex Schultz proved patient at the plate, running the count full before driving in his 22nd run of the season on a walk to score Handberg cut the deficit to 3-2. The run was charged to Jensen-Clagg, who ended up with two earned runs allowed in 6.1 innings pitched. Jensen-Clagg struck out six and walked five.
With the bases still loaded, Reid Roper struck one hard to Chris Paul at shortstop. Paul tossed to second base for the first out, but Roper ran the play out to avoid the double play. Reid’s brother Ryne Roper scored on the play to tie the game back up at 3-3. The RBI gave Reid Roper sole possession of the Honkers RBI mark.
The Honkers had another scoring opportunity in the eighth inning, but back-to-back hits to lead off the inning were wasted, the side going down in order with two men in scoring position.
Matt Kent went the full regulation nine innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and one walk. Kent also struck out eight St. Cloud batters.
With the ballgame in extras, the Rochester bullpen got one scoreless inning from Carl Jameson and another scoreless inning from Ryne Roper in the 11th to keep the score 3-3.
St. Cloud pitchers held the Honkers scoreless after the seventh inning and there was just one chance in the 10th with two out and Jordan Smith on third base. The third out was recorded without a run scoring, which sent the game into the 11th.
St. Cloud again got quick outs against the Honkers, and it was Tanner Buenting who got on first with a five-pitch walk. Alex Schultz then walked for the third time of the night to put two aboard for Honkers career RBI and hits leader Reid Roper. The next strike Will Craig threw to Roper was blasted to right-center for the walk-off win. The 6-3 win was Rochester’s fourth walk-off victory of the season. Ryne Roper was credited with his first win on the mound this season.
With the home schedule completed, the Honkers will travel to Mankato and Alexandria to close out the season on the road to play a pair against each team. First pitch Thursday night in Mankato is set for 7:05.