(Mankato, MN) The MoonDogs (6-3, 26-17) struggled to get the bats going for eight innings of Wednesday night’s contest, but they batted eight in the fourth inning, scoring four and defeating the Thunder Bay Border Cats (5-4, 24-19) 4-3.
The inning began with a groundout, but back-to-back singles by Carlos Ramirez (Chandler-Gilbert) and Mike Lobacz (Elon) put runners on first and third for the bottom of the Mankato lineup, and Ryan Rummel (Texas-San Antonio) and CJ Belanger (Cal-State Northridge) took advantage. Rummel hit a hard liner that ricocheted off the pitcher scoring Ramirez from third and advancing Lobacz into scoring position. Tony Strazzara (San Diego) worked his way on base with a walk before Belanger cracked a triple to the gap in right field that drove in three.
This would be all the run support starter Bryan Longpre (Grossmont JC) and the MoonDogs bullpen would need as Longpre pitched six innings allowing three runs on three hits while striking out two. Longpre did struggle with his control issuing seven walks, but got himself out of most of the jams he pitched himself into. New MoonDog Scott Matyas (Minnesota) pitched a scoreless seventh inning walking one and striking out two before giving way to Dale Dickerson (Nicholls St.) who also pitched a scoreless inning allowing a hit and walking one in the eighth. Dickerson also struck out one handing the ball over to Zach Calhoon (Texas-San Antonio) for the ninth. Calhoon, who has struggled with his control at times during the season, experienced the same problem tonight throwing eight straight balls to lead off the inning. He was replaced by Josh Castanza (Hillsborough CC) who recovered nicely allowing a bunt single, but striking out the final two batters he faced to earn the save on the evening.
The two teams will meet once again at Franklin Rogers Park on Thursday evening with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05pm. With the win the MoonDogs move into a tie with St. Cloud for first place in the North Division as the River Bats dropped Wednesday’s game to Rochester 7-3.