ROCHESTER, MINN. – Thirty-seven days since his last victory, Mankato MoonDogs pitcher Julian Esquibel (Faulkner University) was able to power his way to a solid performance and most importantly a 6-3 victory over the Rochester Honkers on Wednesday night at Mayo Field.
Esquibel (2-4) made it all the way through the seventh inning, stringing along eight hits, three earned runs, and throwing seven strikeouts, a season high. The bulky right-hander who had struggled in the later innings since his shutout debut on June 10 against Duluth, ran into a rough fourth inning where Rochester scored two runs, closing the MoonDogs lead to a 3-2 margin. But Esquibel persevered, making his way through the next three innings only giving up a single run, earning his long-awaited second win.
Jesse Harbin (Arkansas Little-Rock) tossed the eighth inning in order before Jess Amedee (Texas-Arlington) stepped up to attempt to turn his tenth save of 2013.
While the save didn’t come easy, with a couple of walks loading the bases with no outs on the board, Amedee was able to retire the last three Honkers batters to clinch the win for the MoonDogs.
Offensively, Josh Fuentes (Saddleback College) led the way with a two-for-four performance. His two hits powered the first three runs of the game home for Mankato, including a two-run homer in the second and an RBI single in the fourth.
After Rochester closed in with their fourth inning push, Zack Zehner (Cal Poly SLO) delivered his second gopher ball in as many games in the sixth, extending the MoonDogs’ lead back to a pair.
Chase Simpson (Wichita State) added another run with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the seventh before Mankato added an insurance run in the top of the ninth to close out their scoring.
The MoonDogs have now won seven straight against a struggling Rochester team which falls to 1-13 in the Second Half. Mankato, rising to 10-4, gains a game on the North Division-leading Waterloo Bucks, who fell to Willmar on Wednesday night. The MoonDogs now sit two-and-a-half back of the Bucks and a game ahead of Duluth who take sole possession of third place with a win over St. Cloud.
The MoonDogs and Honkers wrap up their season series tomorrow night back in Mankato, a game which is scheduled for a 7:05 p.m. start. Thursday also happens to be Farm and Food Night presented by Blue Earth County Farm Bureau, Corn and Soybean Growers and their checkoffs along with Minnesota 93. There will be food samples, meat raffles and much more.
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.