(Mankato, MN) For the second consecutive start, Bryan Longpre (Grossmont JC) struggled with his control. In his last start he walked seven batters, but was still able to come away with the victory. On Tuesday night, four walks and three hit batsmen came back to haunt the pitcher as he loaded the bases one too many times and Kevin Johnson (Cincinnati) cleared them with a grand slam in the top of the seventh inning putting the River Bats up 5-1, which turned out to be the final score of the game.
The MoonDogs tried to rally putting runners on base in the eighth and ninth innings, but double plays by the River Bat defense erased these base runners and any chance of a MoonDog comeback. Mike Lobacz (Elon) continued to hit the ball well for the home team going 2-for-4 with the only RBI for Mankato on the evening. Brett Krill (UCLA) also collected two hits on the evening going 2-for-3 from the ninth spot in the batting order. Tony Strazzara (San Diego) and Michael Rockett (Texas-San Antonio) each had a hit apiece for the home team.
The first five innings of the game looked similar to Monday’s game where the pitchers were dominating the batting orders inning after inning, but the MoonDogs lit the scoreboard first when Cory Harrilchak (Elon) reached base after being hit by a pitch and scored on Lobacz’s single from second base. The lead held until the River Bats came to the plate in the top of the seventh.
Longpre went seven innings for the MoonDogs allowing five runs on five hits while striking out two. His record on the season drops to 3-2. Josh Castanza (Hillsborough CC) and Kolby Wood (Michigan) each pitched a scoreless inning of relief for Mankato to give the home team a chance to rally, but the damage had been done with the grand slam.
The pitcher’s duel was the shortest nine-inning game of the season for Mankato lasting only two hours and seventeen minutes. The loss drops the MoonDogs to 8-6 in the second half and 28-20 overall. The win snaps an eight game losing streak for the River Bats and brings their second half record to 7-8. The River Bats are 25-23 overall. The two teams will square off once again at Franklin Rogers Park on Wednesday night. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm. William Hung, a former American Idol contestant, will be the special guest for the MoonDogs.