(Mankato, MN) – With the playoff chase getting hotter with each game, the MoonDogs (15-13, 32-30) used a six-run rally in the bottom of the eighth inning led by a grand slam to left center field by catcher Ben Geelan to give the MoonDogs an 8-6 win over the division-leading Duluth Huskies (17-12, 37-26), bringing the MoonDogs to within a game and a half of a playoff spot. The MoonDogs managed to load the bases one more time in the eighth inning and put up an insurance run on a sacrifice fly by shortstop Sean Nicol, who singled in the first at bat of the inning to start the rally.
Geelan finished the game 1-for-4 with four runs batted in on the grand slam. Shortstop Sean Nicol and third baseman Nate Hanson each went 2-for-3 with a double. Nicol scored three times and drove in a run, while Hanson scored once and recorded an RBI. Designated hitter Mike Lobacz finished 1-for-3 with an RBI, while first baseman Adam Abraham, pinch runner Jovan Rodriguez, and center fielder CJ Belanger all scored once for the MoonDogs.
MoonDogs starter Brendan Lafferty went six innings, giving up four runs on seven hits while striking out six Husky batters. Reliever Jordan Tiegs gave up two runs in an inning pitched on two hits. Tim Ryan (1-0) recorded his first victory of the season after throwing a hitless eighth inning. Closer Chad Dawson locked down the victory recording strikeouts for all three ninth inning outs to record his league-leading eighteenth save of the season. The save also gave Dawson the MoonDogs franchise record for career saves. Dawson already broke the mark for saves in a season for the MoonDogs.
The Huskies used a pair of home runs to give themselves a healthy lead. Left fielder Chris House was 2-for-5 with a double, a home run, two runs scored, and two runs batted in. Designated hitter Jason Haniger was 3-for-5 with a double, a home run, a run scored, and two runs batted in. Shortstop Kevin Hanson also recorded three hits for the Huskies. He also scored once and drove in a run. Third baseman David Olson doubled and scored once for Duluth.
Huskies starter Zachary Von Tersch went seven innings, allowing two runs on just four hits and striking out ten before giving way to reliever Ryan Romo. Romo gave up three singles before exiting the game, eventually getting tagged with three earned runs. Brant Combs (5-3) recorded an out before allowing Geelan’s grand slam. Combs would continue to struggle, giving up a total of two hits, two walks, and three runs in the loss. Mike Nesseth finally ended the rally by recording the final two outs of the inning.
The MoonDogs are now in second place in the North Division and just a game and a half back of Duluth. Tomorrow night’s matchup between the top two place-holders in the North Division starts at 7:05 pm at Franklin Rogers Park in Mankato. Tickets can still be purchased in the MoonDogs Ticket Office by calling 625-7047.