It has been a week of ups and downs for the Mankato MoonDogs in the early going of the 2004 season. The first week has found the ‘Dogs in every game, but unable to get the key hit or defensive stop they needed to spring them into the win column. They would finally break the win column Monday night against the St. Cloud River Bats.
Last week was highlighted by Opening-Night guest Frank Viola and Opening-Night Part II with Jim Bouton. Returning All-Star, Will Krout (Sonoma State), had a good beginning to the season by striking out the first 7 of 8 batters he faced against Alexandria. But the ‘Dogs would drop the game 3-2, as all 3 runs for the Beetles were unearned.
A wild and crazy game would follow the next night between the same two teams. The Beetles squad would pound out 16 hits, scoring 11 runs in an 11-9 win despite committing 6 errors. Barrett Rice (El Paso CC) would have a nice game going 2-4 with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI.
Skyler Young (Purdue) had a dominating performance as well to start his 2004 campaign with the MoonDogs. Friday night against the La Crosse Loggers Young put in an impressive 7 innings of work. In the game he would give up 6 hits, 2 runs (1 unearned), and cut down 7 Loggers batters. Unfortunately, the ‘Dogs lineup would only muster 1 hit in the game and lose 2-0.
On Saturday night against the Loggers, the MoonDogs would take an early 3-0 lead and looked to be in control of winning their first game of the season. Then after scoring 1 run in the 6th, the Loggers would put up a 3 spot in the 7th to take the lead and finish the game off winning 4-3. Jon Shepard (Chico State) led the ‘Dogs attack going 2-4 with 2 RBI and a run scored.
The final game of the 4 day road trip would conclude in St. Cloud. After the River Bats scored 2 runs and were threatening for more in the 3rd, 1st baseman Tony Gonzalez looked like he would get the MoonDogs out of the inning by making a great back-handed stop in the hole. But a bobble and error kept the inning alive and the ‘Bats took advantage scoring 4 unearned runs, keeping the MoonDogs slide going losing 7-5.
Finally, in the sixth game of the season at home against the St. Cloud River Bats, the MoonDogs would end the 5-game losing streak. The ‘Dogs would flex their muscle New Orleans style in the 5-1 win.
Starting pitcher Justin Garcia and 1st baseman Tony Gonzalez, both from the University of New Orleans, were key contributors. Garcia pitched 7 superb innings, giving up only 3 hits and striking out 4 River Bats. Tony Gonzalez showed his power potential by smacking a 2-run homer to left. The home run was the first for a MoonDog player this summer and the win would be the teams first as well.
With a league off-day on Tuesday, the MoonDogs hit the road for contests against the Madison Mallards Wednesday and Thursday night before returning home for a 6 game home stand beginning with the Thunder Bay Border Cats Friday night.
Featured in this home stand will be Lets Make A Deal Night, Coca-Cola Beach Party Night, Bussports Can Cooler Night and finishing with McGowan Fun Night presented by McGowan Water Conditioning. For tickets call 507-625-7047.