MANKATO, MINN. – On Super Hero night at Franklin Rogers Park, it was only fitting that the real hero was wearing a baseball uniform rather than a cape. John Michael Twichell (UT-Arlington) played that hero when he crushed a tenth-inning home run over the right field fence to propel the Mankato MoonDogs to a 4-3 comeback victory over the Duluth Huskies in walk-off fashion.
With two outs on the board in the bottom of the tenth and nobody on board, Twichell was able to patiently wait himself to a 3-1 count against Huskies’ pitcher Max Schuh (UCLA). Then, with one swing of the bat, the infielder ended the game and sent the MoonDogs’ dugout and crowd into pandemonium, finishing a resilient comeback from an early 3-0 deficit. The cannon was Twichell’s team-leading eighth of the season and his fifth in the last five games.
Jess Amedee (UT-Arlington, 2-0) capped off an incredible bullpen performance for Mankato, pitching the last inning and two-thirds, striking out four to only one walk to earn his second victory of the season. Amedee picked up right where the MoonDogs’ bullpen left off, as Bryan Bonnell, Jordan Depont, and Amedee combined to throw the last seven innings only giving up one hit.
Starting pitcher Cameron Giannini (Southern Mississippi) made it through the first three frames before leaving the game with an apparent injury. Giannini gave up seven hits and two earned runs as the Huskies were able to build a 3-0 lead in the second and third innings.
Mankato began to claw their way back in the bottom of the third as Tim Arakawa reached home on a Huskies’ error, breaking Duluth starter Clay Chapman’s shutout bid.
The MoonDogs were able to pull within a run later in the fifth inning, when Twichell hit Alex Polston home on a fielder’s choice. Twichell ended the game batting 2-for-4, with two runs and two RBIs.
Duluth was able to hang on to their 3-2 lead until the eighth inning when Mankato tied the game with a Zach Zehner (Cal Poly SLO) RBI single to centerfield, forcing extra innings in the process.
The victory was Mankato’s first extra-innings triumph in three attempts, as they improve to 6-3 in the second half, earning them a spot in a three-way tie for second place in the North Division with St. Cloud and Duluth. The three teams still sit three games back of first place and First-Half Champs Waterloo, who has yet to lose in the second half.
The MoonDogs and Huskies will do battle at the Frank once again on Saturday night for Strikin’ Out Cancer Night, presented by Hooligans Bar and Grill. Festivities include a hog-roast prior to the game benefitting cancer research and a pint-glass giveaway to the first 300 guests 21-and-older through the gates. First pitch is at 605 p.m.
A special congratulations goes out to the six MoonDogs that were selected earlier on Friday to participate in the Northwoods League All-Star Game. The six selections is the most of any team in the league. The MoonDogs who will be representing Mankato in Eau Claire are:
·Outfielder Timothy Arakawa (Oklahoma State)
·Outfielder Jonathan Rodriguez (Oklahoma City)
·Catcher Matt Wollenzin (Austin Peay St. University)
·Infielder Chase Simpson (Wichita State)
·Pitcher Cameron Giannini (Southern Mississippi)
·Pitcher Jess Amedee (Texas-Arlington)
The Northwoods League All-Star Game will take place on July 23 in Eau Claire, Wisc.
Great seats are available to all remaining home games, on sale at the MoonDogs office located at 1221 Caledonia Street in Mankato, as well as over the phone at 507-625-7047. To stay up to date, Like the MoonDogs on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter (@MoonDogsBall), or visit the website at www.mankatomoondogs.com.