Mankato, MN – The Mankato MoonDogs withstood a multitude of rallies and used timely hitting and pitching to defeat the Kalamazoo Growlers 9-5 at Franklin Rogers Park on Tuesday night.
The Growlers (24-19) got started fast, as Connor Kopach (Southern Illinois) led off the game with a solo home run to left field. The Growlers added another run in the frame thanks to a Trey Ganns (Northern Kentucky) RBI single that drove in Jordan Verdon (San Diego State). The MoonDogs (26-16) answered in the bottom of the second and third innings with a run in each frame to tie the game up. After plating two more runs in the 4th inning, they held a 4-2 advantage. The Growlers answered with a run in the top part of the 5th, as Verdon doubled in Kopach who had singled to begin the frame. The Growlers would miss a chance for more runs, however, as Verdon and Brandon Gomez (Nova Southeastern) would be stranded on the basepaths to end the threat.
The MoonDogs answered in the bottom of the 5th with two more runs of their own, and then added what turned out to be three key insurance runs in the bottom of the 8th inning.
Trailing 9-3 heading into the top of the 9th, the Growlers refused to go down without a fight, as Dan Robinson (Central Michigan) walked with one out to extend the frame. Tre’ Gantt (Ohio State) would then double Robinson in with two outs, and Kopach followed by lacing a single to left field which scored Gantt and made it a 9-5 game. That would be all for the Growlers, as Sam Griggs (Southern Indiana) would ground out to end the game.
Grant Wolfram (Central Michigan) got the start for the Growlers, lasting 4 2/3 innings, and striking out three, but he walked four and allowed six runs on five hits en route to taking the loss to fall to 2-2 on the season. Kopach had three hits for the fourth time this season and it was his 12th multi-hit game. Gomez also had a multi-hit game for the fifth time this season. The Growlers had won the first two meetings against the MoonDogs this season as they swept the series when the two teams met a week ago at Homer Stryker Field.
Jacob Piechota (Western Michigan) will get the starting nod for the Growlers tomorrow night as they look to salvage the series split with first pitch slated for 7:05 CDT from Franklin Rogers Park.
The Kalamazoo Growlers are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 23rd season of summer collegiate baseball, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, 150 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (CHC). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.growlersbaseball.com.