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Honkers double up Border Cats

By Donny Henn

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

If the double-play ball is the pitcher’s best friend then the Rochester Honkers hurlers had best friends aplenty Friday night at Mayo Field.

The Honkers turned four double plays to help turn back the Thunder Bay Border Cats 6-3 in a Northwoods League college baseball game.

"Any time you can get two outs with one pitch that’s a good thing, and to it four times in one game, that’s a great thing," said Honkers manager Rusty McNamara.

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The Rochester outfield started the double-play fun in the third inning when right fielder Aaron Dunsmore charged a shallow fly ball that appeared to be sinking for a base hit, or so thought Thunder Bay base runner Matty Johnson.

Dunsmore made the catch and quickly threw to first base where Chris Auten made a nice stretch and doubled off Johnson, who was racing back from second base.

The Honkers’ next three double plays were of the more traditional infield variety.

Rochester turned a 4-6-3 double play in the fourth, an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play in the eighth, and a game-ending 6-3 double play in ninth. Shortstop Corey Jones was in on the first two, and his replacement Danny Pulfer made the final play of the game, grabbing a high chopper off the bat of Thunder Bay’s Johnson right on top of second base and making throw to first in plenty of time.

Honkers closer Arik Sikula earned his 12th save of the season with just a single pitch, entering the game with two on and one out in the ninth and inducing Johnson’s double-play ball with his first delivery.

"It was a good job by our pitchers to get those ground balls," McNamara noted. "You can’t get double plays without the ground balls."

Rochester improved to 6-2 in the second half of the season and leads the North Division by a half-game over the Alexandria Beetles. The Honkers, 5-0 against Thunder Bay this season, meet the Border Cats again tonight at Mayo Field.

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