Baseball is indeed a game of inches.
On Saturday night at Mayo Field, the Honkers came up just a few inches short of a thrilling victory, and St. Cloud claimed a 9-8 win in extra innings.
In the seventh inning, Rochester's Ryan Wrobleski clubbed a two-run homer, his third of the season, to tie the game at 5-5. Two innings earlier, he'd hit what should have been a three-run homer; instead, it was an out, as left fielder Hance Smith reached high above the wall to make the catch.
Then, in the bottom of the ninth, with the Honkers trailing 7-5 and two men aboard, Tristan Peterson crushed a line drive to left-center that came up six inches short of clearing the wall for a walk-off three-run homer. He settled for an RBI double, and the Honkers eventually tied the game at 7-7 forcing extra innings.
The Rox took a 9-7 lead in the top of the 10th on a two-run homer by Ben Carew.
But once again the Honkers rallied, with the help of some defensive miscues. With two outs, Rochester scored a run when the right fielder dropped what should have been a game-ending fly ball off the bat of Aaron Simmons.
With Simmons on first, Craig Shepherd hit a grounder that was mishandled by the second baseman, who then threw wildly to first. The ball got by the first baseman, and Simmons, who had been off with the pitch, rounded third and attempted to score, but the first baseman's throw home beat him, and Simmons was tagged out to end the game.
This was the Honkers first extra-inning game of the season, which means this was the first time fans got to see the new rules that are in place in the Northwoods League this year. In extra innings, runner is placed at second base to start each half-inning, and on Saturday both of those runners came around to score.
The Honkers are at Waterloo on Sunday, then host the Bucks on Monday evening at Mayo Field.
Rox 9, Honkers 8
St. Cloud: Carew 3-for-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI; Finke 1-for-6, RBI; Barth 2-for-3, R, RBI; Delano 3-for-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI; Bonar 1-for-4, 2B, R; Nielsen 1-for-5, 2 R, RBI. Pitchers: Robertson 5 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K; Radel 2/3 IP, 0 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K; Rippl 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K; Davis 3 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K; Stelzer (WP) 1 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K.
Rochester: Shepherd 2-for-5, 2 R; Tristan Peterson 1-for-3, 2B, 2 R, RBI; Wrobleski 1-for-4, HR, 2 RBI; Schmitt R, RBI; Thelen R, RBI; Nelson RBI; Borden RBI; Simmons R, RBI. Pitchers; Lemasters 5 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K; Taylor 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 K; Allen 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER; Bisogno 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K; Anderson (LP) 1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 K.