Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: North Dallas area and UP of MI, average snowfall 202"
Cam bearings, crank bearings, cam lobes and piston pin look OK? If so, and the cylinder is not scored, I'd drop a rod in in a heartbeat. Myself, I am of the opinion (based on what I have seen in older GX series Hondas) that they will outlast anything Chinese by many orders of magnitude, and $15 to get that is darn near free . . . .
Sounds like the rod went dry and tightened up, and for one reason or another, it was shut down in time, and the damage was limited to that area. Be certain to check the crank with calipers as well . . just to be safe!