MANKATO, MINN. – The Mankato MoonDogs were able to muster enough offense to knock off the Northwoods League leading Willmar Stingers in game one, but were shut out in game two, leading to a split in Thursday night’s doubleheader at Franklin Rogers Park.
Game One Mankato 10, Willmar 7 (Seven Innings)
Early offense paced the MoonDogs in the opening game as Mankato was able to use an early lead to hold off a late push by the Stingers.
Despite giving up two runs in the top of the first inning, Mankato responded in a big way by posting six of their own in the first, highlighted by a three-run home run by Josh Fuentes (Saddleback College). Matt Wollenzin (Austin Peay), Chase Simpson (Wichita St.), and Jonathan Rodriguez (Oklahoma City) also notched RBIs in the inning to help the MoonDogs establish their lead.
After adding one run in the third, Mankato would flex their offensive muscles again in the fourth, plating three runs off of two hits and a Willmar error, and the MoonDogs entered the fifth inning with a comfortable 10-3 lead.
The lead did not stay comfortable for long though as Willmar began stringing runs together in the fifth and sixth innings, and were able to cut Mankato’s lead to 10-7 entering the final frame. The league leaders had a great chance to tie the game or take the lead in the final inning as they loaded the bases with one out, but closer Jess Amedee (Texas-Arlington) was able to finish off the Stingers and seal the win for the MoonDogs.
The MoonDogs saw offensive effectiveness through their lineup, with only three hitters failing to reach home and only three hitters failing to register a hit. Woody Woodward (UC Santa Barbara hit two-for-three in his MoonDogs debut.
Mankato starter Kahana Neal (U. of the Cumberlands) picks up the win in his first appearance, throwing four innings giving up three earned runs on three hits, while striking out four.
Game Two Willmar 5, Mankato 0 (Seven Innings)
The offensive firepower that fueled the MoonDogs in game one was nowhere to be found in game two of the doubleheader, as the Stingers were able to shut out Mankato in a 5-0 victory.
Stingers starting pitcher Colin Poche held the Mankato to only three runs over his five innings of work, striking out seven in the process. The MoonDogs then came up empty against Willmar’s bullpen, as they were not able to register a hit against either of the Stingers’ relievers.
Willmar was very efficient in their offense, scoring two runs on two hits in each of the second and third innings, pacing themselves to a 4-0 lead which they extended to five with a run in the fifth.
Brock Dykxhoorn (West Virginia, 1-2) takes the loss after throwing the first four and a third innings, giving up five hits and four runs, striking out three.
Josh Fuentes registered two more hits in the nightcap, finishing the doubleheader batting 4-for-7 with three RBIs.
The MoonDogs and Stingers now travel to Willmar to play games three and four of their series at Taunton Stadium. First pitch on Friday is at 7:05 p.m. The MoonDogs return to Mankato on Sunday, June 23 for their Christmas in June Night presented by Minnesota 93, where they kick off a home stand against the same Willmar Stingers. 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.