MANKATO, MINN.- The Mankato MoonDogs capitalized on an early offensive surge and withstood a late push by the Willmar Stingers to earn their third straight victory by a score of 9-4 Tuesday night at Franklin Rogers Park.
Willmar showed their resiliency that has found them at the top of the Northwoods League North Division standings in the second half of the game, but the MoonDogs’ 9-0 lead that they built in the early innings proved to be insurmountable.
Mankato had their most potent offensive attack in the fourth inning, where they strung together five consecutive hits to bring five runs across. Chase Simpson (Wichita St.), Zach Zehner (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo), and Jake Ellison (Middle Tennessee St.) each notched a double in the inning. Ellison shined brightest on the night however, finishing his day 3-for-3 with three runs and three RBIs.
While the fourth inning outburst finished Mankato’s scoring, they were able to get on the board in the second inning, helped by a Ryan Rosthenhausler (Southern Illinois) RBI double that gave the MoonDogs a 2-0 advantage. They extended their lead to four in the third with another three hits.
The rest of the ballgame was far from comfortable for the MoonDogs though, as Willmar began to mount a comeback with four hits and two runs in the fifth inning, which marked the end of Mankato starter Cameron Giannini’s (Southern Mississippi) night. Giannini (2-0) picks up his second home victory of the season throwing five innings giving up four hits and two earned runs, while striking out five.
The Stingers added runs in the sixth and eighth innings to close Mankato’s lead to five, but relievers Mike Nowak (Dixie St.) and Jesse Harbin (Arkansas- Little Rock) combined to limit Willmar to three hits over the final three innings to seal the win.
The MoonDogs, winners of six of their last seven games, hope to continue their hot play into Wednesday’s rematch and the second of three games against Willmar. Brock Dykxhoorn (West Virginia) is slated to take the mound for the MoonDogs after picking up a win in his debut last week at Rochester. Wednesday is Vegas Night at the Frank presented by Hot 96.7 and a trip to Vegas might be in the cards for one lucky fan. First pitch is at 705 p.m.
Season and single game tickets are on sale at the MoonDogs office located at 1221 Caledonia Street in Mankato. For more information visit the teams website at www.mankatomoondogs.com or call the office a 507-625-7047.