MANKATO — The Rochester Honkers on Sunday had a chance to wrap up the Northwoods League season with a five-game winning streak, but they couldn't get the job done against Mankato. Despite homers from Ryan Wrobleski, Aaron Simmons and Zach Zalesky, the Honkers fell to the MoonDogs 10-6.
Rochester grabbed the early lead in the top of the third inning on an RBI single by Mitchell Allen and an RBI double by A.J. Miller, but Mankato struck back with two runs in the bottom of the frame to tie the game at 2-2.
Rochester reclaimed the lead on Wrobleski's solo homer in the top of the fifth, but Mankato again responded immediately by pushing across three runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 5-3 lead. Two of the runs yielded by Casey Nimmo that inning were unearned.
The Honkers committed three errors on the day.
Zalesky led off the top of the sixth with a homer to cut the deficit to 5-4, but as was the case all day, the MoonDogs wasted no time in responding. They clubbed two homers in the bottom of the sixth to push their lead to 8-4.
Rochester tallied single runs in the seventh and eighth innings but could get no closer.
Evan Berkey had two hits for the Honkers and ended the season with an average of .358, good enough for third place in the batting race.
The Honkers ended the second half with a record of 20-17, four games behind St. Cloud in the Great Plains West division. The Honkers overall record was 38-34.
The Northwoods League best-of-three divisional playoffs begin Monday, with St. Cloud hosting first-half champion Willmar.
Berkey, Taylor all-stars
Rochester Honkers’ shortstop Berkey and closer Keon Taylor were honored as Northwoods League postseason All-Stars.
Berkey (Cal State-Bakersfield) leds the Honkers with a .358 batting average. He’s also recorded 10 extra-base hits (seven doubles, one triple and two home runs) and has 23 RBIs.
Taylor (Georgetown College) leads Rochester with a 1.26 ERA and 12 saves. He’s also earned a 4-1 record with 44 strikeouts and 28 2/3 innings.
MoonDogs 10, Honkers 6
Rochester: Wrobleski 2-for-5, HR, 2 R; Miller 2-for-5, 2B, RBI; Allen 2-for-5, RBI; Simmons 1-for-5, HR; Zaleski 1-for-3, HR; McMahan 1-for-4; Berkey 2-for-3, 2 R. Pitchers: Layne 4 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K; Nimmo 1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 1 Er, 1 BB; Strassman 1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER; Rodriguez 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 K; Taylor 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB.
Mankato: Novak 2-for-4, 2 R, RBI; Bess 1-for-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI; Perez 1-for-3, R, RBI; Elvir 1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI; Moberg 2-for-5, 2 RBI; Craig 1-for-5, R; Newberg 1-for-4, R; Gargano 2-for-4, 2 R. Pitchers: Newman (WP) 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K; Maynard 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 K; Hinscsh 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB; Pilcher 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 K.