MANKATO, MINN.— Two costly innings gave the Green Bay Bullfrogs all the run support they needed to cruise to a 7-4 victory over the Mankato MoonDogs on Wednesday night at Franklin Rogers Park.
After drawing first blood in the third inning off of a Timothy Arakawa (Oklahoma State) RBI single, the MoonDogs were blindsided by two big-scoring innings from the Bullfrogs offense.
After quickly retiring the first nine batters he faced, Starting pitcher Jon Perrin (Oklahoma State) hit a road block in the fourth inning when he gave up singles to four of the first five batters in the frame. After the dust cleared in the fourth, Perrin gave up four runs on five hits, reaching the maximum pitch count in the process, ending his night and pegging him for the loss (5-3).
Reliever Paul Mittura (Middle Tennessee St.) did not have any better luck in the fifth inning, as Green Bay once again erupted to the tune of three runs on three hits, extending their lead to 7-1 against a flustered MoonDogs squad.
Mankato began to mount a comeback in the bottom of the fifth, as lead off batters Josh Fuentes (Saddleback College) and Alex Polston (Seminole St. College) both reached on singles, setting up a three-run blast from Hibraim Cordova (Univ. of the Cumberlands) that cut the Bullfrogs’ lead to 7-4. Cordova’s home run continued a string of impressive play from the Puerto Rico native, as he has now compiled seven hits, two home runs, and seven RBIs in his last three games, and has notched a hit in each of his last six.
Cordova’s blast was the last time the MoonDogs could solve Bullfrogs’ starting pitcher Matt Esparza (Tennessee, 2-3), who went the distance on Wednesday, pitching all nine innings giving up the four runs on only seven hits, striking out five and shutting down the potent MoonDogs offense the last four frames.
While Mittura recovered from the fifth inning barrage and, with the help of late reliever Sam Clay (Georgia Tech), held the Bullfrogs to only three hits the rest of the game, the MoonDogs offense could not get anything going on Esparza to complete their comeback.
The loss drops Mankato (20-11, 37-29 overall) to a tie with Willmar, victorious on Wednesday, in the North Division overall standings, falling two games back of Duluth thanks to a Huskies victory over Wisconsin.
The MoonDogs took three of four against the Bullfrogs in 2013, but the one lost might prove costly as Mankato can hardly stand to lose any ground in the North Division playoff race that is heating up by the day.
Mankato will need a big bounce back performance on Thursday night as the South Division First Half Champion Madison Mallards come to Mankato to kick off the last two games at Franklin Rogers this season. Thursday features a plush Muttnik giveaway to the first 300 kids courtesy of Subway.
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).