The Bismarck Larks had a large enough lead in the seventh inning to withstand one two-run homer, but not two.
Thunder Bay’s Collin Rosenbaum and JQ Folena each hit two-run homers late in the game as Thunder Bay rallied to beat Bismarck 6-5 Friday in the Northwoods League.
The Border Cats rallied from a 5-2 deficit after six innings to win their first game of the season after three losses. The Larks closed their four-game homestand 2-2.
“It was a long time coming,” Thunder Bay manager Mitchell Feller said. “Those guys have been swinging it well the last couple of nights but just couldn’t quite find the hole. Now we’re a little more confident.”
Thunder Bay banged out 12 hits off of five Bismarck pitchers, including a two-run game-winning homer off reliever Nick Sampogna.
“We had a couple people we needed to get in,” Larks manager Sean Repay said. “Nick had to get in. He was one of the last.”
As for the homers, Repay said they were mistake pitches. “We left them both middle in,” he said. “When we’re successful, we’re burying the outer half.”
Brandon Fokkema, who entered the game in the sixth when Thunder Bay starter Connor Centala came down with a sore arm, pitched one inning and came away with the win.
“We had to go to our setup guy,” Feller said. “Fokkema bridged it and got the win. He was put in a tough spot. He didn’t get as much time as usually to warm up. To get hot fast is not his forte.”
Trailing 5-2 after Bismarck scored twice in sixth inning on Cullen Smith’s two-run single, Josh Norlin worked a walk off Noah Luedtke. Rosenbaum then homered to left to close the deficit to one run.
Jeff McCunn doubled to left and the Larks brought on Nick Sampogna. Folena blasted Sampogna’s first pitch over the left-field wall and the Thunder Cats had a 6-5 lead.
Evan Johnson survived a base-loaded jam in the eighth and Brady Hill worked the ninth for the save.
Thunder Bay grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Braden Mosley worked a walk from Bismarck starter Frank Greco. With two outs and bases loaded, Jared McCunn singled to right to score Mosley. Greco got Folena on a grounder to first to end the inning.
The Larks tied it right away when Spencer Gillund dropped a blooper into right field between three players, scoring Wyatt Ulrich, who had reached on a single off Centala.
The Border Cats retook the lead in the fourth, again with Mosley playing a role. He singled with two outs and went to second on a wild pitch and scored on Gabriel Lozada’s double to left.
The Larks retook the lead in the fifth when Luke Waldek doubled and Ulrich tripled. Ulrich then scored on Michael Pereznegron’s groundout.
Bismarck upped the lead to 5-2 in the sixth. Mason Pierzchalski and Noah Sadler reached to start the inning, and when centerfielder Lozada threw wildly to the infield and flyout, both runners moved up.
Cullen Smith drove in both with a single.
Noah Sadler had two hits, as did Wyatt Ulrich batting in the nine hole. Ulrich scored twice.
Lozada, Rosenbaum, Folena and McCunn had two hits apiece for the Border Cats.