Starting pitching key for Honkers

By Donny Henn

The players who were with the Rochester Honkers at the start of the Northwoods League season don't need to be reminded how this long summer of baseball began -- no matter how hard they tried to forget those first two games with the Waterloo Bucks.

Waterloo bashed the Honkers in a two-game sweep in the first week of June, winning 14-10 in the opener at Waterloo, and 17-4 in the Rochester's home opener at Mayo Field.

It was a sobering introduction for a Honkers team full of new faces, including first-year manager Dave Parra and new assistant coaches Mark Vollmer and Brad Sanchez.


But that opening series with Waterloo wasn't so foreboding. The Bucks feasted in those first two games as Parra worked with a patchwork pitching staff and a roster that was still short five or six players.

Waterloo won the 12-game regular season series with Rochester, 7-5. Three of the games were decided by one run, including the most recent two last week in Rochester.

Rochester and Waterloo were two of the top offensive teams in a weak-hitting eight-team league during the regular season. The Honkers' team batting average of .249 is third-highest, and Waterloo's .245 mark is fifth.

But pitching often rules in a short playoff series, and Parra feels good about his rotation against the Bucks. Three Honkers pitchers -- Connor Falkenbach, Pat O'Neil and Nathan Hochgesang -- allowed only two runs in three wins over the Bucks.

Falkenbach (University of Florida) is 5-3 with a 1.67 ERA and leads the league in strikeouts. He's 1-0 against Waterloo with a complete game shutout, limiting the Bucks to no runs and two hits in 10 innings. He will start Wednesday.

Hochgesang (Golden West College) is 8-2 with a 269 ERA. He's also 1-0 against the Bucks with a 2.84 ERA in 122⁄3; innings. Waterloo has batted just .214 against him.

O'Neil (Garden City C.C.) is 1-2 against Waterloo, but he has a 2.03 ERA in 131⁄3; innings against the Bucks.

Honkers pitchers will have to keep their eyes on Waterloo baserunners; the Bucks swiped a league-high 132 bases, the only team to average more than two per game. Adam Boeve leads the league with 40, two off the league record.


Rochester's offense has been waning in the second half. The Honkers averaged a league-high 5 runs per game en route to an 18-14 record and the first half South Division title; they averaged 3.5 runs in the second half.

Andre Ethier (Arizona State) has been a rock in the lineup, playing in 59 games in the outfield. He's batting .259 and leads the team with 32 RBI, shares the homers lead (4), and is third in runs (31), and fourth in stolen bases (10).

Ben Thomas (Midland College) has played in 58 games and leads the team with 18 stolen bases in 24 tries. He also has a team-high 13 doubles and is second in runs with 32.

Jeff Corsaletti (University of Florida) is batting .277 with team highs of 33 runs and four homers, along with 25 RBI and 15 stolen bases. Jesse Boyer (Neosho County C.C.) is the only .300 hitter, and has scored 27 runs.

second half


W L Pct. GB

; y-Waterloo 18 13 .581 --


; Wisconsin 14 16 .467 3; 1/2

x-Rochester 13 16 .448 4

; Madison 9 21 .300 8; 1/2


xy-Brainerd 21 11 .656 --

; St. Cloud 17 14 .548 3; 1/2

Mankato 17 15 .531 4

; Alexandria 14 17 .452 6; 1/2


x -- Indicates first half division winner

y -- Indicates second half division winner


Rochester 2, Madison 2, susp. in 3rd inning

Mankato 10, St. Cloud 2, 6 innings, rain

Wisconsin 5, Waterloo 2

Brainerd 3, Alexandria 2



Rochester at Madison (2), 5:05 p.m.

St. Cloud at Mankato

Brainerd at Alexandria

Wisconsin at Waterloo

End of regular season


Division playoffs (best-of-three)

Rochester at Waterloo, 7:05 p.m.


Mankato or St. Cloud at Brainerd, 7:05 p.m.


Division playoffs (best-of-three)

Waterloo at Rochester, 7:05 p.m.

Brainerd at Mankato or St. Cloud, 7:05 p.m.


Division playoffs (best-of-three)

Rochester at Waterloo, 7:05 p.m. (if needed)

Mankato or St. Cloud at Brainerd, 7:05 p.m. (if needed)

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