Eau Claire, Wis. – For the second year in a row, the Mankato MoonDogs are the North Division’s first half champions. Tim Griffin threw six shutout innings and a host of MoonDogs players chipped in with hits as the Dogs clinched the first half crown with a 6-3 win over Eau Claire at Carson Park Monday evening.
Griffin (Rollins) continued to dazzle on the mound for Mankato (21-9) as he threw six scoreless innings with five strikeouts for his third win of the year. He lowered his ERA to a sparkling 0.93 with the scoreless frames, as he has now thrown 13 straight run-free innings.
After four scoreless innings, the MoonDogs jumped ahead with three runs in the fifth. Danny Miller (Minnesota State) had an RBI single, Jimmy Patterson (Arizona State) recorded an RBI fielder’s choice and Brenden Webb (Palomar CC) posted a sacrifice fly to give the Dogs the initial lead.
After a Kyle Knudson (Minnesota) RBI single in the seventh put the Dogs up 4-2, the Express (20-7) plated two runs off reliever Tony Manville (Northern Illinois). Alex Burgos (Manatee CC) came on with runners on second and third and enticed a line drive double play, as AJ Pettersen caught the Express runner off second to get out of the jam.
The MoonDogs added to the lead the very next inning as Kenny Held (New Mexico) scored on a Joe Lopez (South Mountain CC) wild pitch. Pettersen advanced from second to third on the play as catcher Aaron Fujiki (Yavapai) turned and tried to get Pettersen rounding third. His throw sailed into left, however, easily scoring Pettersen for the sixth MoonDog run.
Adam Jung (South Alabama) picked up the save, throwing the ninth inning for his second save of the year. Ian Campbell (Yavapai) took the loss (3-3), falling in his first start in 11 appearances for the Express. He lasted five and two-thirds innings, allowing three earned runs and striking out four.
Robbie Knight (Creighton), Dominic Piazza (Yavapai) and Bobby Rinard (Yavapai) all had two hits to pace the Express, who outhit the Dogs 10-7.
The same two teams will wrap up their series at Carson Park Tuesday. First pitch will be at 6:35 p.m.