Pitching, Defense Shine, But Honkers Walked off by Waterloo
WATERLOO, IOWA - Honkers starting pitcher Tanner Cunha turned in a gem of a performance and Rochester made three top-tier defensive plays, but the Waterloo Bucks (20-10) walked the Rochester Honkers (4-21) off in a 4-3 heartbreaker at Waterloo Riverfront Stadium.
Cunha (Nevada) twirled 7.1 efficient innings, throwing just 76 pitches en route to his longest and best start of the season. The rising senior allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits, walking just two and striking out zero on his way to a no decision.
Waterloo took an early advantage when an infield error and a sacrifice fly put two runs on the board in the second inning. The Bucks held that 2-0 lead until the fourth, when Peyton Williams (Iowa) sent a solo shot over the right-field fence to make it 3-0, Waterloo.
Rochester scratched across its first run in the fifth after Robert Moore (Arkansas) reached to start the inning with a single. He was brought around by a Logan Sanders (Pima CC) single, thanks to an error by the Waterloo left fielder. Kyle Huckstorf (Iowa Western CC) drove another runner home on an RBI single to trim the Bucks' lead to 3-2.
The Honkers plated their third run in the seventh, when Moore again led the inning off with a single. Bryce Begell executed on a hit-and-run to move Moore into third, who scored on an RBI groundout by Sanders to knot the score at three apiece.
Jack Zalasky (Sacramento State) came on in relief of Cunha in the eighth to get the final two outs of the inning before the Honkers went one-two-three in their half of the ninth. Then, Williams capitalized on a center-cut fastball from Zalasky on the first pitch of the bottom of the ninth inning, sending it into the Waterloo night to clinch a 4-3 Bucks victory. The loss was Rochester's franchise-record 14th in a row.
If not for Huckstorf, the game likely wouldn't have needed a bottom of the ninth. The rising sophomore made a diving catch on a sinking line drive in center to save at least one run from scoring to give the Honkers a fighting chance.
Steven Moretto (Sacramento State) made two dazzling plays at third base, both against Bucks' third baseman Charley Hesse (North Dakota State). The first was a diving snag on a ball in the air to take a double away from Hesse. The second likely did the same thing, but Moretto leapt vertically instead of horizontally to steal another hit.
The Honkers return home to Mayo Field tomorrow for the first game of a three-game homestand against the St. Cloud Rox and Mankato MoonDogs. First pitch against the Rox in Rochester is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. CST with Honkers Pregame Live presented by Rochester Toyota airing at 6:30 to get you set for all the action.
Be sure to connect with the Honkers on social media by liking them on Facebook and following them on twitter @RochHonkers and Instagram @HonkersBaseball. Join the conversation by using the hashtag #UnlockTheFlock!
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