MANKATO, MINN. – The Waterloo Bucks were able to score runs in bunches on Thursday night as they hit their way to a 15-10 victory against the Mankato MoonDogs in game one of a North Division series at Franklin Rogers Park.
The Bucks were able to put four runs or more on the board in three separate innings, as they out-hit the MoonDogs by a 16-11 margin.
Waterloo’s first outburst came in the third inning as they opened up a 6-1 lead with five runs on six hits. After tying the game at one in the second, the Bucks were able to get to Mankato starting pitcher Julian Esquibel (Faulkner University). After retiring the first two batters, Esquibel surrendered singles to six of the next seven batters, while walking the other, before recording the last out. Despite giving up seven hits and six earned runs over three innings pitched, the right-hander did not get a decision from the game.
Sam Clay (Georgia Tech) entered in the fourth inning and pitched three solid innings before getting relieved by Bryan Bonnell (UNLV) after letting batters reach first and second at the start of the seventh inning. Both of the runners reached home, along with two others as Waterloo was able to convert four runs on four hits, all of which came off Bonnell, who takes the loss for the MoonDogs (2-2).
Mankato got dinged for another four run inning in the eighth off an additional four hits, as Zach Hobbs (Navarro JC) and Jordan DePonte (New Mexico St.) split the inning on the mound.
Regardless of the MoonDogs’ defensive woes, their own offense allowed them to stay in the game, as they briefly took the lead with a run in the first inning and then rallied from 6-2 and 7-4 deficits to tie the game with two runs in the fifth and three runs in the sixth, off of two and three hits respectively. Unfortunately they were never able to capitalize on their momentum as the North Division leading Bucks consistently had an answer to a MoonDogs’ push.
Leading the offense for Mankato was Matt Jones (Southern Illinois) who had two RBIs batting two-for-four while scoring two runs of his own. Chase Simpson (Wichita St.) and John Michael Twichell (UT-Arlington) each also added two RBIs, Twichell adding his team-leading eleventh home run of the season with a lead-off shot to start the seventh inning.
The loss drops the MoonDogs (12-7) into a three-way tie for second in the North Division along with Duluth and St. Cloud, as the three squads each sit four and a half games behind the Bucks, who improve to an impressive 17-3 in the Second Half.
Mankato, desperate to make up some ground on Waterloo, will look to do so in game two of the three-game set Friday night at Franklin Rogers Park. It is Sweatin’ To The Oldies Night in conjunction with the wrap-up to the MoonDogs Fit program, presented by Minnesota Valley Federal Credit Union. First Pitch is scheduled for 705 p.m.
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.