After league play on Friday night, the Brainerd Lakes Area Lunkers find themselvses in seventh place with a 4-6 record. The Rochester Honkers are just a half-game out of first with a record of 6-4.
Those records could just as easily be reversed as Brainerd suffered its second heart-breaking loss in a row to the Honkers 3-2 at Mills Field.
Rochester 3, Brainerd 2
The key: Rochester's Anthony Dunn eighth inning base hit scores two runs
Records: Brd 4-6, Rochester 6-4
Next: Brainerd hosts Mankato at Stewart C Mills Field 7:05 p.m. Saturday.
The weather was chilly and so was the offense as both teams combined for just eight hits.
Trailing by two runs, the Honkers pushed across two runs in the ninth inning. Closer Ian Kadish then came in and got the Lunkers out 1-2-3 to secure the save.
After defeating the Honkers in the first game of the series, the Lunkers led 5-1 on Thursday night before Rochester scored seven runs in the eighth inning to take the lead and hold on for the win.
The ninth inning was the cursed inning on Friday night. Drew Smith was one of the best closers in the league in 2009, and has been solid so far in his second season with the Lunkers. Fans had to feel pretty good about his chances as Smith entered the game in the ninth inning with a one run lead.
Brainerd was able to get on the board first in the sixth inning. Matt Hillsinger singled to lead off the inning. He stole second base, and then moved to third on Jeff Bunch's one-out hit. T.J, Berge drove Hillsinger in with a single, but Berge and Bunch were stranded.
In the seventh, the Lunkers' Russ Hopkins was hit by a pitch to start off the inning. He advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Levi Ferguson and moved to third on an error by the shortstop. Hopkins gave the Lunkers and starting pitcher Brian Russell a 2-1 lead coming into score on a fielder's choice ground ball from Ryan Abrahamson.
After a scoreless eighth inning from Lunkers pitcher Brian Baumgartner, Smith faced Drew Beuerlein to lead off the inning. Beuerlein may have played his last game with the Honkers on Friday night as he was expected to sign a contract with the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday.
Beuerlein walked, and Brian Lippincott singled to put runners on first base and second base. Smith then struckout Mitch Caster, but Richie Jimenez loaded the based for Rochester with a hit. Beuerlein was out on a force play at home from Smith. But with two outs, Rochester's Anthony Dunn came up wiith the big hit as he singled to score Linnpincott and Jimenez and give Rochester the lead at 3-2.
One of the bright spots that Brainerd can take from the game was the pitching of starter Brian Russell. Russell pitched seven innings, giving up just two hits while striking out three.
Unfortunately, the Lunkers were left to think about what could have been as they were so close to victory the last two nights against the defending 2009 Northwoods League champions.
Rochester 000 010 002 - 3 5 1
Brainerd 000 001 100 - 2 3 1
Rochester: Gabe Feldman, Ian Kadish (9) an Drew Beuerlein
Brd: Brian Russell, Brandon Baumgartner (8), Drew Smith (9) and David Allbritton
WP: Feldman. LP: Smith. Sv: Kadish.
SB: Brd-Levi Ferguson, Matt Hillsinger
S: Brd-Ferguson; Roc-Anthony Dunn
RBIs: Brd-T.J. Berge; Roc-Dunn (2),
DP: Brd 1
LOB: Brd 4, Roc 6
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