Honkers complete rally as Wednesday turns to Thursday
By Donny Henn
The Rochester Honkers pulled off a remarkable comeback Wednesday night at Mayo Field.
Unfortunately almost no fans were there to witness it, because the Northwoods League college baseball game didn’t actually end until early this morning.
A two-hour rain delay followed by a 3-hour-plus game pushed the finish past midnight, to 12:12 a.m., and not many of announced crowd of 333 were left at the end to see the Honkers rally from seven runs down and beat the Mankato MoonDogs 10-7.
Rochester (6-8) halted a two-game losing skid at home and got closer to .500 (12-13) at Mayo Field this season.
The Honkers erupted for seven runs in the sixth inning and three more in the eighth, after Mankato had built a 7-0 lead through five innings.
Rochester scored seven runs on six hits in the sixth. Dakota Smith (Kansas) and Trevor Podratz (Hawaii) delivered the big hits, Smith with a two-run double to left, and Podratz a three-run homer to cap the rally.
Podratz leads the team with nine homers and 34 RBI, and the 19-year-old freshman ranks fourth in the league in homers. Smith finished 3-for-5 to raise his batting average to .335.
Rochester used some small ball to break the tie with three runs in the eighth. Justin Protacio (Kansas) drew a lead-off walk, went to second on a wild pitch and later scored from third on a ground-out. Mike Lukkason (Dakota Weseylan) followed with a two-run bloop single to right for two insurance runs.
The Honkers finished with 13 hits and five players had multiple hits. Justin Parr (Illinois) was 2-for-5 with his 12th double and raised his team-leading average to .349.
Mankato built its big lead by scoring in five of the first six innings. The MoonDogs got back-to-back solo home runs in the second inning from Craig Massoni (Chabot College) and Cody Ferrell (Oklahoma City) against Rochester starter Carl O’Neal (St. Mary’s-Texas).
Mankato scored two more in the fifth on a two-run homer by John Michael Twichell (Texas-Arlington) against relief pitcher Chris Noble (Pikeville).
The Honkers have now allowed a league-high 48 home runs in 49 games.
Six players pitched for Rochester including two normal position players. Infielder Reid Roper (Illinois) got the win and improved to 2-1; and outfielder Dakota Smith pitched a scoreless ninth for his team-leading fourth save.
The MoonDogs and Honkers close their three-game series and meet for the last time this season at 7:05 p.m. tonight at Mayo Field. Mankato (7-7) has a 5-4 edge in the season series.