Honkers still aiming for first half division title
An eight-game win streak made the Rochester Honkers the hottest team in the Northwoods League last week, but it didn't secure a playoff spot.
A weekend series split with the visiting Duluth Huskies left Rochester (15-10)three games behind Waterloo (18-7) and one behind Willmar (17-8) in the North Division with 10 games left in the first half of the 70-game regular season.
The Honkers have the day off Monday and start an eight-game road trip, the longest of the season, Tuesday at St. Cloud.
"We can absolutely still win the division, especially since we end the road trip with three games against Willmar," White said. "But it's a huge road trip, that's for sure; we need to go 6-2, 7-1 or even 8-0."
Rochester saw its winning streak end Sunday afternoon with a 10-2 loss in 12 innings. Duluth batted around and scored eight runs in the top of the 12th inning, combining four hits with seven walks and a wild pitch from relief pitcher Stephen Paladino (Felician College).
"We played a pretty competitive game until that last inning, and then (Paladino) ran into a little trouble," White said.
Rochester was in position to keep its win streak going with an 11-hit attack and 13 runners left on base, including six in scoring position. It was the eighth straight game the Honkers have had at least 10 hits and now the team is second in the league with a .267 batting average and second in runs scored with 140.
"I'd say our confidence on offense is really starting to come along," White said. "This is the kind of offense I think we are going to have, a team that can hit and score runs."
Rochester squandered two late scoring opportunities in the seventh and 11th innings. In the seventh, Jared Watts (Bethel) rounded third base too far on a two-out single to left by Alex Greer (Iowa Western) and was thrown out trying to scramble back to third.
The first two Rochester batters reached base in the 11th, Matt Halloran (Minnesota) on a single to left and Kevin Barker (UC Davis) on a hit-by-pitch. But Duluth's fifth pitcher Nate Carter (Florida Southern) got the next three batters on infield outs to escape.
Greer went 3-for-6 to extend his hitting streak to seven games and raise his average to .372, which ranks second in the league. In the seven games he is 16-for-33 with 10 RBIs, nine runs and six extra-base hits.
Also for Rochester, Reid Roper (Illinois) had a lead-off double in the fourth inning and scored on Barker's single to right. Roper has now hit in nine straight games. Kalei Hanawahine (Hawaii) followed with an RBI single to left to score Barker and extend his own hit streak to six games.
Rochester used seven pitchers and all were effective except for Paladino who is 0-2 and saw his ERA balloon to 8.68. Starter Derrick Hadley (Sam Houston) allowed three hits and no runs through four innings.
"We wanted to give some work to guys who hadn't thrown in a while," White explained.
SATURDAY:Rainy weather made the Honkers wait for their eighth straight win Saturday night at Mayo Field.
The Honkers scored eight runs in the second inning and beat the Huskies 12-3 in a game that was delayed for 1 hour and 39 minutes, and finally called complete after five innings at 11:28 p.m.
Rochester had 12 hits in the shortened game, including two-run homers by Tucker Tharp and Alex Greer. Greer (Iowa Western) hit his team-leading fifth homer in the eight-run second, and Tharp (Kansas) connected for his second homer in the third.
Former Rochester Century player Jared Watts (Bethel) had his best game at the plate going 3-for-3 with a double, two runs and two RBIs and raised his batting average to .224.
Mason Pingel (Western Illinois) pitched three innings in relief for the win, allowing two hits and no earned runs.
NOTES:Carter Burgess (Sam Houston) had Sunday off after going 2-for-3 on Saturday and extending his hit streak to 12 games. The infielder has hit safely in every game since joining the team and is hitting .435 with 14 RBIs. ... Duluth used five pitchers in Sunday's game and the second one was Rochester native John Meyer (UMD) who threw just 1/3 of an inning. The 6-2 sophomore right-hander is 2-0 with a 3.46 ERA in 10 appearances, all in relief, for the Huskies.
Honkers 12, Duluth 3, 5 innings
Duluth Huskies:Teaf 2-for-2, 1 R; Wilson 1-for-3, 1 R; Harvey 1-for-3, 1 RBI; Vavra 1-for-3, 1 R; Suiter 1-for-3; Meek 1-for-2. LP: Wilson (1-2) 1 IP, 3 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 0 K; Cervantes 2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; Moffit 1 1/3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K;
Rochester Honkers:Tharp 1-for-3, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R; Burgess 2-for-3, 1 RBI; Pomeroy 2-for-4, 1 R; Greer 1-for-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R; Deacon 0-for-2, 1 R; Campbell 1-for-2, 1 RBI, 2 R; Roper 1-for-2, 1 R; Barker 1-for-2, 2 R; Watts 3-for-3, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R. WP: Pingel (2-2) 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K; Stennis 2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K.
T-- 1:44. A-- 644.
Duluth 10, Honkers 2, 12 innings
Duluth Huskies:Teaf 3-for-6, 1 R, 1RBI; Wilson 2-for-5, 2 RBI; Curcio 1 R; Harvey 1 RBI; Suiter 2-for-6, 2 R, 1 RBI; Vavra 1-for-4, 2 R; Meek 1 R; Saathoff 1-for-1, 1 R, 1 RBI; Alexander 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 RBI; Szczerba 1-for-4, 2 R.WP: Carter (3-1) 3 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K; Starter: Vandermaten 6 2/3 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 2 K; Meyer 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K; Garza 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K; McElderry 1/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.
Rochester Honkers:Hanawahine 2-for-5, 1 RBI; Baker 1-for-4; Greer 3-for-6; Pomeroy 1-for-5; Roper 1-for-6, 1 R; Halloran 1-for-5; Barker 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 RBI; Watts 1-for-4. LP: Paladino (0-2) 1 2/3 IP, 3 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 8 BB, 2 K; Starter: Hadley 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K; Edwards 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K; Tenorio 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K; Fuller 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K; Campbell 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K; Schwarzbach 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K.
T-- 3:30. A-- 801.