MANKATO, MINN. – The Duluth Huskies played like a team that was not ready to back down in the ever-intensifying North Division Playoff race as they controlled Monday night’s game from wire to wire en route to a 12-6 win over the Mankato MoonDogs at Franklin Rogers Park, earning a split in the two-game series.
Duluth was able to race to a sizable lead early, plating seven runs in the first two frames while capitalizing on a rough outing from MoonDogs starting pitcher Brock Dykxhoorn (West Virginia).
A two-run home run from Trey Vavra (Eastern Illinois) got the Huskies started in the first inning before a five-score deluge in the second inning gave them a 7-0 advantage and ended Dykxhoorn&rsquos night. Dykxhoorn (3-4) got dinged for two singles, a lead-off home run on his first pitch of the inning and issued five walks to account for the runs scored.
Finding themselves in a big hole early, Mankato began to chip away at Duluth’s lead, starting when Alex Polston (Seminole St. College) crossed home on a passed ball in the third to put the MoonDogs on the board.
After giving the run back to Duluth when Vavra hit his second home run of the night in the fourth, Mankato eked out two runs in the fifth to cut the deficit to 8-3. Hibraim Cordova (Univ. of the Cumberlands) knocked his fifth homer of the season and Polston scored his second run of the game to bring the MoonDogs within five of Duluth.
The same two batters combined again an inning later to provide an offensive spark for the MoonDogs, as Cordova provided a sacrifice RBI to bring home Woody Woodward (UC Santa Barbara) and Polston came up with a huge hit with two outs on the board to bring home two runs before getting tagged out at third to end the inning. Polston finished the game batting 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored and a pair of RBIs.
While the three-run sixth cut Duluth’s lead to 8-6, Mankato’s offense which had been operating at a torrid pace, came up silent, especially in the bottom of the eighth when they had two men on base with the tying run at the plate, trailing 9-3.
But the MoonDogs could not overcome a night where their one-through-four batters combined for 0-for-18 at the plate. Most notably, Tim Arakawa’s (Oklahoma State) 0-for-5 performance broke a streak of 35 consecutive games reaching base.
An additional three runs in the top of the ninth sealed the deal for Duluth as they clinched the victory and a split of the two-game series. The Huskies’ victory ended Mankato’s season-high winning streak at six games and pushes them back to a game ahead of the MoonDogs in the North Division overall standings with six games to go. Willmar, with their Monday night victory, joins Mankato at one-game back of the Huskies as the playoff race gets tighter.
The MoonDogs look to get back on the winning track as they switch to interleague play for the remaining four games of their home stand. The Green Bay Bullfrogs are the first of two South-Division opponents to come to the Frank, as they are set to play two against Mankato starting on Tuesday night. The MoonDogs recently swept the Bullfrogs in Green Bay on August 6 and 7, winning 12-6 and 7-1 at Johannes Stadium . Tuesday night is Back to School Night at the Frank presented by Capstone Publishing and Hot 96.7, featuring a book giveaway for the first 400 kids through the gates. After the set with Green Bay, the First-Half South Division Champion Madison Mallards round out the MoonDogs’ home schedule on August 8 and 9.
To make sure you don’t miss any of the action, get your tickets today by visiting the MoonDogs office at 1221 Caledonia Street in Mankato, or over the phone at 507-625-7047. For more information and up-to-date news, stats and more visit our website at www.mankatomoondogs.com, Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter (@MoonDogsBall).