MANKATO, MINN – The Mankato MoonDogs turned what looked to be a rout into a nail biter, but ultimately fell short 13-12 to the Thunder Bay Border Cats on Monday night at Franklin Rogers Park, despite one of the most bizarre ninth innings in recent memory.
After scoring four runs of their own and extending their lead to a daunting 13-5 margin in the top of the ninth, Thunder Bay watched as Mankato miraculously began to claw their way from down-and-out to on the verge of pulling off an walk-off thriller, ultimately scoring seven runs, five with two outs on the board. It was a nightmarish final inning for Border Cats reliever Daniel Stoney, who walked six, gave up two singles, and hit another batter, to the delight of the MoonDogs dugout.
Stoney was replaced by Ryan Atwood after his sixth walk brought the MoonDogs within two with the bases loaded. Mankato then closed the Border Cats lead to a single run when Atwood walked Zach Zehner (Cal Poly) on his first at-bat, sending the crowd and the MoonDogs dugout into a frenzy.
The comeback attempt fell by the wayside as Chase Simpson (Wichita State) struck out swinging on a full count with the game-winning run sitting on second. Simpson finished the night batting three-for-five notching two RBIs.
While Mankato was able to keep the game close in the early going, nine Thunder Bay runs scored through the sixth through ninth innings put plenty of distance between them and Mankato. The Border Cats’ offense was consistent throughout the game, as they scored at least a run in all but two innings and were never retired in order.
All-in-all it was not a good night for anyone standing on the mound, with 25 runs scored off of 24 hits and 18 walks combined between the two teams. Jon Perrin (Oklahoma St., 1-1) suffers the loss for the MoonDogs after throwing five innings spraying nine hits for four earned runs.
The two teams will be right back at it tomorrow afternoon in the second and final game of the series in the only day game of the season at Franklin Rogers Park. Tuesday is also Day Care Day, with many local kids set to attend, first pitch is at 1:05 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 website at www.mankatomoondogs.com or call the office a 507-625-7047.