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It’s the Size of the Fight in the Dogs

(Mankato, MN) – After just four hits in the first eight innings and facing a 2-0 deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning, the MoonDogs (16-14, 33-31) showed what they were made of against the St. Cloud River Bats (13-16, 34-29), rallying to put two runs on the board only to face a similar challenge in the bottom of the tenth inning, where they were down 3-2. The MoonDogs rose up once again, plating one more run, setting the stage for a one-out, bases loaded opportunity for the number nine batter and recently signed second baseman Jay Bresnahan, who earlier in the game recorded his first hit as a MoonDog. Facing a two-ball, two-strike count in the bottom of the 12th inning, Bresnahan sent a chopper toward first that River Bats pitcher Ryan Seefus (2-1) couldn’t get to home plate in time as pinch runner Jaime Armendariz scored and the MoonDogs defeated the River Bats 4-3.

The MoonDogs, who are now just a game and a half back of division leader Duluth, forced extra innings when left fielder James Keithley slapped a single through the left side of the infield to drive in center fielder CJ Belanger, who reached on an error, and pinch runner Jovan Rodriguez, who replaced pinch hitter Jeff DeSmidt after he slapped a double off the left field wall. Facing a one-run deficit and two outs, Belanger drove a double to right center, and Rodriguez duplicated Belanger’s shot, scoring Belanger from second base to further the evening’s drama. In all, Keithley and Belanger each recorded two-hit games with Keithley driving in two and Belanger scoring twice. Rodriguez was 1-for-1 with a double and a run scored.

MoonDogs starter Matt Mossey followed up a gem by last night’s MoonDog starter Luke Vine by going the full nine innings, giving up two runs, one earned, on six hits while striking out six. Reliever Chad Dawson gave up one run on two hits in two innings pitched. Ted Farni threw two-thirds of an inning, striking out one, and Brendan Lafferty (4-3) recorded the win for the MoonDogs just two nights after defeating the division-leading Duluth Huskies in a crucial game. Lafferty forced the last out of the inning.

For St. Cloud, right fielder DJ Belfonte tripled, scored once, and drove in a run. Designated hitter Matt Fanelli also drove in a run for the River Bats. Second baseman Jeff Hulett and pinch runner Adam Yeager each scored. River Bats starter Buddy Baumann threw seven shutout innings while striking out eight MoonDog batters. Reliever Sean Wideberg threw a scoreless eighth inning, striking out two. Ryan Wrobel blew the save in the ninth inning and proceeded to throw three total innings, giving up three runs, two earned, on seven hits. Ryan Seefus entered the game in bottom of 12th inning and gave up one run after allowing a hit and walking two.

The MoonDogs host their last home game tomorrow night, Fan Appreciation Night, against the St. Cloud River Bats at 7:05 pm at Franklin Rogers Park In Mankato. The MoonDogs are still in the playoff chase, just a game and a half back with three games left.