Roper Walk Off Caps Honker Career
Reid Roper caps his special career at Mayo Field with a walk-off home run in extras
Typically, Matt Kent was strong; goes nine innings to help Honkers to a 6-3 win
(Rochester, Minn.) – In the Honkers’ final regular season home game of the summer, Reid Roper (Illinois) caps a sensational career with the Honkers after a magical performance at Mayo Field Wednesday night, boosting the Honkers to a 6-3 win on a walk-off home run in extra innings.
The game’s starters Nick Jensen-Clagg (Kent State) and Matt Kent (Texas A&M) pitched a couple of scoreless innings to start the game, but the Rox grabbed the first lead of the contest in the third.
Kent had scattered four hits in the game when he stared down Chris Paul (California-Berkeley) with a runner on second base and two out. Paul ripped a double deep off of the right center field wall to score the game’s first run and the Rox led 1-0.
The Honkers finally earned their first hit off Jensen-Clagg in the bottom of the fifth inning, a single from Jordan Smith (Minnesota). Immediately following Smith’s single to left, Corey Hassel (Oklahoma State) grounded a double all the way to the left field corner, scoring Smith from first base and tying the game at one.
Later in the fifth, the Honkers loaded the bases with two outs and Alex Schultz (Nebraska Omaha) at the plate, but Jensen-Clagg pitched out of the jam, striking out Schultz and minimizing the damage.
The game stayed knotted at one until the top of the seventh inning when Will Craig (Wake Forest) smacked a two-run home run over the left field wall off Kent to push the Rox into the lead, 3-1.
Schultz got another chance with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning with one away, this time he walked, scoring the second Honkers run of the game. Following Schultz’s walk, Reid Roper grounded into an RBI fielder’s choice to tie the game back up at three, scoring brother Ryne Roper (Illinois). Reid’s RBI gave him 100 in his Honkers career, making him the Honkers’ all-time leader in RBIs.
Jordan Smith led off the bottom of the eighth with a double pulled down the first base line off reliever Kevin Burgee (Georgia State). Corey Hassel’s bunt was perfectly placed and he beat out the would-be sacrifice out to put runners on first and third base with nobody out. But Burgee pitched out of the scoring threat unscathed, keeping the game tied.
Matt Kent finished the ninth with the tie in place, but the Honkers couldn’t win it in the bottom half of the inning, ending Kent’s bid for the late win. Kent finished the night pitching nine innings, allowing three runs on seven hits, one walk and eight strikeouts.
And it was stuck at 3-3 all the way until the 11th inning. With two outs, reliever Will Craig walked Tanner Buenting (Iowa Central Community College) and Alex Schultz with Reid Roper at the plate. Fittingly, Reid wrapped up his final regular season game at Mayo Field with a walk-off home run way over the right center field fence, giving the Honkers the 6-3 win – and after pitching a scoreless top-half of the 11th in relief, Ryne Roper is credited with the game’s win.
The Honkers have no more games left to play at home in 2014, but they still have four more games to play this week; two with Mankato and two more with Alexandria. A little more of the magic we saw last night could get the Honkers into the playoffs. You can follow the remainder of the Honkers’ season on 1520 KOLM or YouTube by subscribing to the official Northwoods League channel. For more information about the Rochester Honkers, visit rochesterhonkers.com.