MANKATO, MINN. – The Rochester Honkers were able to snap their seven game losing streak against the Mankato MoonDogs, breaking through in the 13th inning to win 3-2 in a marathon affair on Thursday night at Franklin Rogers Park.
After being held hitless by Mankato’s bullpen for the previous five innings, the Honkers finally broke through on MoonDogs pitcher Paul Mittura (Middle Tennessee State) with a trio of hits. The inning started when Max Murphy (Bradley) reached on a lead-off single, who was able to reach home two batters later when Matt Halloran (Minnesota) smacked a double to right field to finally break the 2-2 stalemate that had held since the sixth inning.
Rochester was able to retire the MoonDogs in order in the bottom of the inning to seal the win, their second in the Second Half and their first against Mankato since the second day of the 2013 season on May 30.
The Honkers certainly played like a team that was extremely hungry and tired of losing, and that especially showed in their bullpen. Relievers Hayden Edwards, Reid Roper and Jeff Campbell combined to throw eight innings of one-hit ball. Roper and Campbell both pitched after starting the game in the infield for Rochester, and fared extremely well throwing the last five innings, striking out six without walking anyone.
The loss spoiled a valiant performance by the MoonDogs bullpen, which came together in a group effort in lieu of scheduled starter Cameron Giannini being sidelined due to injury. Bryan Bonnell (UNLV) and Ryan Quick (Austin Peay St. University) got the MoonDogs off strong each throwing three innings Bonnell giving up one run on three hits and Quick giving up one run on two hits.
Four additional pitchers saw time in the remaining seven innings, highlighted by impressive performances from Jesse Harbin (Arkansas- Little Rock) and Mittura. Harbin, in his second appearance in as many nights threw three and a third innings after entering the game in the eighth inning, not surrendering a hit. Mittura turned the Honkers away in order in the 12th before running into trouble in the 13th.
Mankato got on the board right away in the first when three-straight base hits brought home Tim Arakawa (Oklahoma St.). Rochester tied the game at one in the second innings before the teams traded runs in the sixth inning to bring the score to 2-2, where it stayed for over six innings.
The win was Rochester’s first since July 12, as the Honkers improve to 2-13 in the Second Half. Mankato’s loss cost them an opportunity to gain ground on North Division leading Waterloo, who lost to Willmar for the second straight night. Instead the MoonDogs fall to 10-5 in the half and remain two-and-a-half back of the Bucks, but stay a game ahead of third-place Duluth and St. Cloud.
The MoonDogs move into a crucial part of their schedule, as they kick off a three-game series with the Willmar Stingers on Friday. Mankato is currently three-and-a-half back of the Stingers in the overall standings, a deficit they will need to erase to make the playoffs if Waterloo can hold on to their perch in the coming weeks. After game one at Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar on Friday, the MoonDogs return to the Frank on Saturday for Star Wars Night presented by KXLP, set for a 605 p.m. start.
After the set with Willmar and the three-day All-Star break that follows, the MoonDogs and Bucks tangle for a critical three-game series, beginning on July 25.
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.