MANKATO, MINN.- What looked like an sure victory for the Waterloo Bucks turned into a barnburner at Franklin Rogers Park, as the Mankato MoonDogs staged a ninth inning comeback that ultimately fell just short, as the Bucks held on to win 9-8 on Tuesday night clinching the Northwoods League North Division First Half title.
Down 9-2 going into the bottom of the ninth, the MoonDogs showed plenty of fight, cashing in on a two- run home run by Chase Simpson (Wichita St.), his seventh of the season. Mankato wasn’t done yet as they then loaded the bases and stunned the Bucks when Matt Wollenzin (Austin Peay St. University) crushed a grand slam to right field.
The Bucks saw their seven-run lead shrink to a single run, but closer Adam Dian was able to dial in and stop the bleeding, as he retired Quinnton Mack (New Mexico St.) for the last out of the game. The Waterloo dugout erupted soon after the game ended when they learned that they indeed clinched their playoff spot with a First Half title.
Prior to Mankato’s valiant comeback effort the game was all Waterloo, as they certainly looked like a team with a lot on the line. The Bucks were able to score in all but two innings, as their consistency on offense turned out to be the difference on Tuesday. David Kerian and Pat MacKenzie both contributed to Waterloo’s lead, each notching a solo home run.
Tuesday marks the second straight game Mankato has lost after outhitting the Bucks. While the MoonDogs ended the game with a 13-9 edge in the hit column, it was once again errors that ended up doing the damage, as Mankato added another four errors to the five they committed in Monday night’s loss.
Bucks starting pitcher Aaron Rhodes (Florida, 3-1) picks up the win after delivering a solid performance, throwing seven innings while stringing out eight hits, giving up two earned runs and striking out eight. Sam Clay (Georgia Tech, 1-1) takes the loss for the MoonDogs, who have now dropped three out of the last four to the Bucks, and five of the six the teams have played so far this season.
The two teams wrap up the first half of the season with one more game in Waterloo on Wednesday night, with a first pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m. at Riverfront Stadium. The MoonDogs immediately begin their second half on Thursday as they take their second trip up to the great white north, playing a pair of games against the Thunder Bay Border Cats.
Mankato returns to the Frank on Saturday, July 6 against the St. Cloud Rox for Duck Dynasty Night. 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.