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Thunder Bay pitcher Omar Maldonado walks off the field after lasting just one-third of an inning against the Bismarck Larks on Wednesday evening. Maldonado was relieved after surrendering four runs on one hit, four walks and three hit batters. Bismarck added two more runs before the inning ended.

Crooked numbers early make for comfortable nights at the ballpark.

Great starting pitch also helps, and through two games the Bismarck Larks have gotten plenty of both.

In unusual fashion, the Larks scored six runs with just one hit in the bottom of the first inning en route to a 10-1 win over Thunder Bay in Game 2 of the Northwoods League season on Wednesday night at Bismarck Municipal Ballpark.

The six early runs were more than enough for Cruz Daddario. The right-hander from Las Vegas, Nev., followed Carlos Lopez’s stellar outing by sailing through 7 2/3 strong innings with an efficient 88 pitches.

“I went out there in the eighth inning and told him, ‘sorry buddy, I don’t need to take you out, but we need to get some of these other guys in the game,’” Larks manager Sean Repay said. “Cruz was awesome. Just pounding the zone, getting ahead in the count. He threw the ball extremely, extremely well.”

Daddario knew the pressure was on following Lopez, but he was clearly up the challenge.

“He came out yesterday and I’m like great, I gotta follow that up?” Daddario said. “So yeah, you definitely don’t want to pitch bad after that.”

Thunder Bay starting pitcher Omar Maldonado was all over the place in the top of the first. Of the first nine batters he walked four, hit two and was pulled training 5-0. The Larks’ first hit of the inning didn’t come until leadoff man Wyatt Ulrich singled up the middle in his second at-bat of the inning, which scored Brandon Barna to make it 6-0.

Maldonado and relief pitcher John Sawkowski combined to throw 51 pitches in the inning.

“Our guys have been taking a lot of pitches, really working the count and being patient, it’s really fun to watch,” Repay said. “It’s interesting because if you look at some of their college numbers, we’re going to punch out a little bit, and you saw that a little bit tonight. But we’re getting on base and having a lot of good at-bats. We certainly have no complaints in that area.”

The bottom of the second inning started loudly for the Larks when Kyle Stevens launched a long solo home run to left field for the only long ball of the two-game series.

Two batters later, Barna singled home Jacob Nesbit and the Larks led 8-0.

“We still have a lot of guys that aren’t here but the guys that are here now are making a really positive impression,” Repay said. “We’re going to have to make a lot of tough decisions with our roster. It’s a good problem to have, but you hate to see any of these guys have to go.”

Daddario worked into the eighth inning, allowing just one unearned run on three hits with eight strikeouts. Daddario redshirted this season at Division I Cal State-Northridge.

“It’s kind of like riding a bike, I guess, just wanted to be aggressive and throw strikes,” he said. “The atmosphere is unbelievable with the fans and everything, it’s just so fun to be out there. With the way we’re scoring runs that definitely makes it a lot less stressful to just go out there and go after guys.”

Six Larks had hits in the game, with Barna leading the way with his second multi-hit game.

The Larks host Duluth tonight at 7:05.


Kip DeShields will start on the mound tonight for the Larks. DeShields pitched at Youngstown State. … The Larks have scored nine first-inning runs through two games. … Maldonado and Thunder Bay relief pitcher Jayden Metz hit 93 miles per hour on the radar gun. … Attendance for the game was 1,803.

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Sports Reporter