Thunder Bay, Ontario – The Mankato MoonDogs saw their first no-hitter in team history on Monday, as Tim Griffin accomplished the feat. On Thursday night, the Dogs nearly had the favor returned. Luis Castillo took a no-hitter into the ninth inning and survived a MoonDogs rally, as the Border Cats earned a 2-0 victory at Port Arthur Stadium.
Castillo (Bellevue) did not allow a walk, and struck out 12 in eight innings of work before running into trouble in the ninth. Nick Judkins (Iowa Central), who rejoined the team on Tuesday, led off the frame with a pinch-hit, infield single to prevent the fifth NWL no-hitter this season. KC Serna (Oregon) then singled on the first pitch he saw to put the tying run on base with nobody out.
The Border Cats (13-11, 22-36) then called in Drew Erwin (Nicholls State) from the bullpen to stop the threat. Danny Miller (Minnesota State) moved both runners over with a sac bunt, but Jimmy Patterson (Arizona State) struck out and Brenden Webb (Palomar) lofted a soft liner to center on the first pitch he saw to preserve the shutout win for the Border Cats.
Castillo moved to 3-2 on the year and Erwin picked up his third save of the season in his 19th appearance of the summer. Ryan Demmin (UW-Oshkosh) allowed just two earned runs and struck out four in six innings, but fell to 5-4.
The Cats did all the scoring in the bottom of the first inning. Adam Courcha (New Mexico) walked with one out and stole second. On the very next pitch, David Phillips (Ole Miss) rapped out a single to put the Cats up 1-0. After the second out and another single by Walker Moore (Cal St. Fullerton), Andrew Schugel (Central Arizona) provided the third hit of the inning to plate the final run of the night for a 2-0 lead.
The Border Cats have now won two straight over the MoonDogs (35-24, 11-14) after losing four straight to them in the first half. Tomorrow’s first pitch for game three in the four-game set will be at 6:05 CST.