Walk-off? It was more like a run-off.
Cooper Coldiron’s one-out single in the ninth inning on Sunday drove in David Salguiero with the winning run as the Bismarck Larks beat Duluth 4-3 to split their two-game Northwoods League series.
The sharp two-strike single between short and third had had no sooner cleared the infield than Coldiron – playing in just his second game – was being chased and mobbed by teammates in right field at Municipal Ballpark.
“It’s not a Larks game without drama,” Bismarck manager Sean Repay said. “I love our team going into the bottom of the ninth with the game tied. I know we have that momentum.”
Coldiron, a shortstop who joined the Larks (10-10) Saturday from the University of Houston, was 2-for-4 with two runs batted in.
Bismarck reliever Nick Boyles made only one bad pitch in the ninth inning but eventually earned him a win.
Protecting a one-run lead with two outs in the ninth, Boyles’ 2-1 pitch to Luke Roskam was launched for a game-tying home run to make it 3-3.
“Boyles is one of the best back-end guys in the league,” Repay said. “Tip of the cap to that guy over there. He got the best of Nick in that one.”
Boyles then gave up a single to Kai Gomez before striking out leadoff hitter Jake Smith to set the stage for the Larks’ ninth.
Alex Ross started and worked six innings for Bismarck. He gave up just two hits and two runs, while striking out five. Each of the two runs he allowed reached via walk.
Carson Selin and Trenton Stoltz each worked an inning. Stoltz was called on in the seventh with two on and one out and got out of the jam. He pitched through the eighth before giving way to Boyles in the ninth.
The Larks took a 1-0 lead in the first off Duluth starter Gaylon Viney. Mitch Gallagher walked and later scored on Coldiron’s sacrifice fly.
Isaac Collins’ groundout in the second plated Dean Nevarez to tie the game.
Viney left after four innings having given up six hits, including one of Ryan Anderson’s two doubles. Anderson, who was 2-for-4, scored on Scooter Bynum’s sacrifice fly.
The Larks went ahead 3-2 in the sixth when Mason Pierzchalski singled and went to second on an error by Duluth left-fielder Sam Baier. He went to third on a groundout and scored Gallagher’s single. Pierzchalski was 3-for-4 in the game.
Boyles got two easy outs to start the ninth on flyouts to center and left. He threw two balls to Roskam and got a called strike before Roskam hit one into the jet stream blowing out to right. Just like that, the lead was gone.
Boyles, who had warmed in the pen, then on the field, then waited out a 15-minute delay to remove a fan injured on the field in between innings, appeared unaffected by the delay. Roskam just got a pitch to hit.
“He’s just a good hitter,” Repay reiterated.
Joe Gonrowski started the ninth for the Huskies and hit Salguiero with a 1-2 count. Gallagher then bunted Salguiero to second.
With one out, first baseman Austin Paschke – playing his first series with the Larks – lined his second hit of the game to right field. Salguiero rounded third and went halfway home before retreating to the bag rather that possibly being thrown out at home.
Stephen Yancey came on to face Coldiron and immediately got ahead 0-2. Coldiron then began fouling off pitches to stay alive.
“He grinds at-bats out and he’s not going to get cheated,” Repay said. “He’s not going to go down looking, he’s going to go down fighting.”
Coldiron took a strike, fouled off two pitches, took a ball, then fouled off three more pitches. Then he lined the game-winning single.
“You’re just trying to find a pitch you can drive with the infielders in,” Coldiron said. “I missed one fastball that was in and the rest were rink-dink sliders that I knew I couldn’t drive so I battled them off until I finally got a fastball at the end. We were able to get one through and pick our pitcher up.”
Gonrowski took the loss for Duluth (10-9), which had its four-game winning streak snapped.
The Larks’ homestand continues today with the first of two games against the St. Cloud Rox. Tonight’s game is at 7:05 and Tuesday’s is a businessman’s special (11:05 a.m. start).