Connor Perry’s last day with the Bismarck Larks was a lot like that of former first-baseman Austin Paschke.
Like Paschke, Perry bid farewell to Bismarck with a grand slam homer on his final day at home with the team.
Perry had three hits, scored twice and drove in four runs in a 9-3 win over Waterloo in the first game of a series-ending doubleheader at Bismarck Municipal Ballpark.
“I wish I could stay, believe me, because I’ve learned a lot,” Perry said.
Perry added two walks in the nightcap, which the Bucks (8-12, 32-24) won 5-1 behind the pitching of Ryan Garcia and three relievers. Waterloo hurlers held Bismarck (10-10, 26-29) to five hits.
Garcia was the star of the nightcap. After allowing Scooter Bynum’s first-inning single, het set down 15 straight batters before walking Perry and giving up an infield single with one out in the sixth.
Matthew Perea relieved and threw one pitch to get Bynum to hit into an inning-ended double play, preserving the 2-0 lead.
Waterloo added a single run in the eighth and two more in the ninth inning.
The Bucks banged out 13 hits, but only three against Larks’ starter and loser JC Bonilla (1-1).
“He’s looked good out of the bullpen in an extended role and we had to have a spot start there. It was a must and we figured he was pretty consistent,” Larks manager Sean Repay said.
The Bucks scored a run in the first and fifth inning against Bonilla, each being helped to third base by a wild pitch. Jay Schuyler doubled and scored on Brandon Gutzler’s single in the first and Charlie Concannon doubled and scored on Gutzler’s sac fly in the fifth.
It was 2-0 when Bonilla left.
“I just wanted to go out there and throw strikes and give my team the best chance to win,” Bonilla said.
Whether it’s out of the pen or starting, Bonilla said it’s the same.
“It’s the same mentality, just keep attacking the hitters trusting your stuff,” Bonilla said.
Perry, who is returning home August 1 to get ready for his junior season at the University of Pittsburgh, said he was kidding with teammates before the opening game.
“I actually said when we were warming up ‘Didn’t Paschke hit a grand slam on his last day,’ thinking nothing of it,” Perry said. “Then after I did, that was pretty cool.”
Perry connected in a four-run second inning that staked Bismarck starter and winner Nick Boyles (3-2) to a 5-1 lead.
Boyles, who pitched his last game for the Larks due to inning limits imposed by UNC-Asheville, gave up six hits and three runs in five innings. He struck out four and walked three. Jake Carlsen and David Manasek pitched four scoreless innings in relief.
The Larks scored in the first off Waterloo starter and loser Zachary McLeod (0-3), who struggled in his three innings. He gave up six earned runs and eight hits.
Bynum broke out of an 0-for-15 slump with three hits. He also scored three runs.
Ryan Anderson continued his torrid second half with three hits, including a double. He is hitting .419 in the week since teams returned from the all-star break.
Schuyler had three hits and Brandon Gutzler, Drew Greenwood and Keaton Presley had two hits each for the Bucks.
The Larks will return home from the road with a new look on August 3. The definitely will be without Perry, Boyles, Coldiron, pitcher Alex Ross and pitcher Jeff Lindgren.
“We’re losing arms but we’re gaining arms,” Repay said of the transition. “We’ll be at 15 arms on the road and another will join us when we get back.”