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Another home defeat drops Honkers from race

By Donny Henn

dhenn@postbulletin.com

Maybe the Rochester Honkers should try sitting in the visitors’ dugout at Mayo Field.

The Honkers’ home-field trials continued Tuesday night with a 9-7 loss to the St. Cloud River Bats, and this Northwoods League college baseball defeat was doubly disappointing.

Rochester’s second straight loss at home eliminated the Honkers from the chase for the North Division first half title.

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Mankato (20-13), despite its’7-3 loss to Thunder Bay, maintained a 11⁄2-game lead over Rochester (18-14) and clinched the North Division title.

It was Rochester’s third home loss in the last four home games. The Honkers have played just above .500 ball at Mayo Field, with an 8-7 record.

"We’re frustrated, upset, all of those things," said Honkers manager Jason Plourde. "We just couldn’t take care of what we needed to do.

"Maybe we haven’t grasped the idea that this is our home field, and we have to protect our turf."

Rochester surrendered three leads against the River Bats, and St. Cloud scored the winning runs in the top of the ninth on a mammoth two-run home run to right field by No. 3 hitter Derek McCallum, a University of Minnesota sophomore.

St. Cloud erased Rochester leads of 1-0, 4-2 and 5-4, and the River Bats battered four Honkers pitchers for 14 hits, including five for extra bases.

St. Cloud also used four pitchers and it was the last, right-hander Xavier Esquivel (Loyola Marymount), who finally subdued Rochester’s bats. After a couple of walks, he cranked up a 93-94 mph fastball and struck out four of the last five Honkers.

The River Bats’ comebacks spoiled some of Rochester’s own hitting heroics.

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Devin Goodwin (Delta State) singled and scored Rochester’s first run in the first inning, and he followed in the third inning with a line-drive two-run homer to left-center.

Jake Overstreet (South Alabama) was 2-for-4 with three runs scored and a clutch run-scoring triple in the seventh. Following his hit into the right corner, Overstreet came home on a sacrifice fly as the Honkers tied the score at 7-7.

Overstreet said there’s no tangible reason nor any excuse why the Honkers have struggled at home.

"I don’t know what’s going on, but we’ve got some kind of jinx going on here," said Overstreet, who raised his batting average to .207 with his best offensive game.

"It’s really disappointing because we got down to the last couple of games and we were still in the race, and then we couldn’t get it done at home."

St. Cloud scored two unearned runs in the second inning, capitalizing on two errors by Honkers shortstop Tony Balisteri. The team has committed 36 errors in 15 home games.

"When you’re not able to do the basic things, like get bunts down and take care of the ball on defense, do you really deserve to win a division title?" Plourde pondered.

Plourde said it’s going to be an "uphill battle" for Rochester in the second half.

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Overstreet said it’s going to sting for a few days, realizing how close the team was to securing a playoff spot. But it’s no use to dwell on it, he said.

"The sooner we put it behind us, the sooner we can get focused on getting it done in the second half," he said.

RIVER BATS 9, HONKERS 7

ST. CLOUD (9) ROCHESTER (7)

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Canha lf 3 0 0 0 Gump cf 6 0 2 1

Thompson rf 1 0 0 0 Tyrell dh 4 1 2 0

McCallum 2b 6 2 2 3 Goodwin lf/ss 3 2 2 3

Johnson 1b 6 1 3 0 Stephens 1b 3 0 0 0

Hrnandz 3b/rf 4 1 3 1 Johnson c 4 0 2 1

Gallego ss 3 1 1 0 Wates 2b 5 0 1 0

Hale dh 4 2 1 0 Balisteri ss 4 1 0 0

Fanelli cf 3 1 0 1 Tarleton ph 1 0 0 0

Cochrane c 5 0 2 2 Lutes rf 0 0 0 0

Bettrdge ss/3b 4 1 2 1 Overstreet 3b 4 3 2 1

Hilt rf/lf 3 0 1 1

Totals 39 9 14 8 Totals 37 7 12 7

River Bats 020 020 302 — 9 14 0

Honkers 102 101 200 — 7 12 2

E — ROC, Balisteri. DP — SC 1. LOB — SC 14, ROC 12. 2B — SC, McCallum, Johnson, Betteridge; ROC, Gump 2. 3B — ROC, Overstreet. HR — SC, McCallum; ROC, Goodwin. SH — SC, Canha, Thompson, Hernandez, Johnson. SF — ROC, Hilt. SB — SC, Betteridge; ROC, Gump 2, Goodwin, Balisteri, Overstreet. CS — SC, Cochrane.

IP H R ER BB SO

St. Cloud

Tucker 4 6 4 4 4 2

Hill 2 3 1 1 1 2

Sykes 1 3 2 2 0 1

Esquivel W,1-0 2 0 0 0 2 4

Rochester

Scott 5 7 4 2 2 2

Meaux 11⁄3 2 3 3 4 0

Speed 12⁄3 3 0 0 1 2

Mitchell L,0-1 1 2 2 2 1 0

Time — 3:40. Attendance — 942.

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