(8/8/06) As the bottom of the ninth began on Tuesday night at Franklin Rogers Field, an orange moon rose beyond the left field wall. Unfortunately, it did not signal a Mankato MoonDogs rally, and the sun set on the MoonDogs’ playoff aspirations.
Caleb Staudt threw a complete game, four-hit shutout for the Thunder Bay Border Cats, who took advantage of a fifth inning error to score the game’s only run in a 1-0 win over the MoonDogs. The loss eliminated the MoonDogs from playoff consideration, giving the Duluth Huskies the North Division’s second half title.
Staudt struck out 11 and retired the final eight batters he faced in throwing his second complete game of the season. The MoonDogs advanced a runner as far as third base just once in the game, when Tim Smith singled to lead off the sixth, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Chris Henault, and went to third on a groundout by Ryan Addison. Shane Buschini flied out to end the inning.
Tyson Brummett continued his string of exceptional outings, giving up just two hits in going the distance for the second straight start; he threw a 2-0 shutout against Brainerd on August 2. But the Mankato defense, which has been so solid in the season’s second half, made one costly mistake on the night.
In the fifth, Nathan Koppi led off with a single for Thunder Bay before Marcus Jones reached on an error by third baseman Nate Hanson. With a sacrifice bunt to move the runners into scoring position, Drew Martin’s groundout to shortstop was hit just softly enough so that even a drawn-in MoonDogs infield could not throw out Koppi at the plate, and the Border Cats plated the eventual winning run.
Brummett (4-4) struck out nine and walked two in becoming the fourth different MoonDogs pitcher to throw a complete game this season, joining Steve Salas, Dan Klous and Dane Secott. He lowered his ERA to 1.40, which ties him for fourth in the Northwoods League.