Power display lifts Honkers over Moon Dogs
Friday the 13th was a weird day for Rochester pitcher Chad Tworek.
It was the day he learned that he had been selected to play in the 2018 Northwoods League All-Star Game, but it was also a day he was scheduled to pitch against Mankato — and the weather didn’t look promising.
“The whole day was a downer, rainy day,” he said. “Showing up for the game, I see the field is flooded, and I was like, ‘It’s going to be a long one today, boys.’”
He was right. The start of the game was delayed 30 minutes, and when Tworek finally toed the rubber, he got off to a bad start, walking Mankato’s leadoff batter and giving up a single to the next hitter.
But Tworek bore down, getting a pop-up and an inning-ending double play on a one-hop smash that was snared by second baseman Jaylon McLaughlin.
By the time Tworek took the mound in the second inning, the Honkers had a 4-0 lead, and he went on to toss six strong innings and earn his fifth win of the season as the Honkers won 10-4.
“I think that the delay really did affect me a little bit,” he admitted. “Once the adrenaline got fully flowing, I was ready to go. And I was really grateful for that double play. Jaylon made a beautiful play to field that ball, and then a quick backhand flip.”
Tworek yielded nine hits but managed to limit the damage to just three runs. “Mankato always hits us hard,” he said. “Holding them to three runs on nine hits, I can’t complain about that.”
Rochester’s offense, meanwhile, was making the most of its opportunities against Mankato’s Jon Ludwig, who also was named to the All-Star team.
Jaylon McLaughlin led off the first inning with a single, and after Alex McGarry was hit by a pitch, Michael Michalak lined a single up the middle to score McLaughlin. Two outs later, Mike Peabody came through with a two-run single, and Nate Webb immediately brought him home with a booming double that short-hopped the wall in dead center.
Honkers manager Thomas Walker said his team wasn’t going to sit back and let Ludwig dictate their at-bats. “I just wanted the guys to come out and compete tonight and be aggressive,” he said. “We had some long, grinding at-bats, but we were aggressive about hitting our pitch in the strike zone.”
The game’s biggest blow, however, came on a first-pitch fastball. In the bottom of the third inning, with the bases loaded after a walk to Nate Webb, Ludwig was on the ropes. Honkers catcher Logan Denholm had a moment to chat with his head coach while the Moon Dogs had a conference on the mound.
“Coach Walker came over and told me ‘You’re going to get a fastball to hit, so be ready,’” Denholm said. “I took his advice and it worked out for the best.”
It did indeed. Denholm crushed a grand slam over the wall in left field, giving the Honkers an 8-4 lead. Ludwig departed with his ERA having risen from 1.18 to 2.90.
The next Mankato pitcher, Ricky Digrugilliers, fared little better. Alex McGarry led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a rocket that clanked off a construction crane beyond the right field wall for his third homer of the season.
One out later, Christian Robinson hit a towering fly ball down the right-field line that fell just inside the the foul pole and also hit the crane. It was Robinson’s fourth homer.
That power display was more than enough offense for Tworek, whose “downer” day turned out to be pretty special, with a big win and a spot on the All-Star team.
“Honestly, it’s pretty cool to be an All-Star,” he said. “I wasn’t able to play this last college season, so it’s a great accomplishment for my career, to be able to tell my friends ‘Hey, I did this.’”
The other Rochester player to earn a spot on the North Division’s All-Star roster is closer Joshua Ibarra, who has a 2.04 ERA over 17 innings and has appeared in 16 games. He has seven saves and 20 strikeouts.
HONKERS 10, MOON DOGS 4
Mankato 012 000 100 — 4 10 0
Rochester 404 200 00x — 10 11 0
Mankato: Shepski 2-for-4; MacDonald 2-for-4; Bull 1-for-4, R; Novak 2-for-4, 2 RBI; Mitchell 1-for-4, R; Teijeiro 2-for-2, R, RBI. Pitchers: Ludwig (LP) 2 1/3 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 1 BB, 4 K; Digrugilliers 1 2/3 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; Duffy 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K; Jackson 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 K.
Rochester: McLaughlin 1-for-5, R; McGarry 2-for-4, 2B, HR, 2 R; Michalak 2-for-4, R, RBI; Robinson 2-for-5, HR, 2 R; Peabody 2-for-4, 2 R, 2 RBI; Webb 1-for-3, 2B, R, RBI; Denholm 1-for-4, HR, 4 RBI. Pitchers: Tworek (WP) 6 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K; Brandt 0 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB; McCollum 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 K; Goytia 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K.
MOON DOGS 5, HONKERS 4
Rochester 001 000 030 -- 4 9 1
Mankato 004 001 00x -- 5 6 0
Rochester: Peabody 1-for-4, R; Michalak 1-for-3, 2 R; McGarry 2-for-4, RBI; Hardy 2-for-4, 2B, R, 2 RBI; Robinson 2-for-4, RBI; Adams 1-for-4. Pitchers: Slade 3 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; Sundine 3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K; Dorney 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K; Brandt 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB.
Mankato: MacDonald 1-for-5, R, RBI; Shepski 1-for-5, R; Elvir 2-for-4; Bull 1-for-3, R; Crews 1-for-2, 2B, R, RBI. Pitchers: Ramirez (WP) 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K; Pfaadt 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R; Huschle 2/3 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K; Hardy (S) 1 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 K.