MANKATO, MINN.— As the Mankato MoonDogs left the field at Franklin Rogers Park on Friday night, they did so with the satisfaction of knowing that they accomplished what they set out to do, in completing a dominant 7-3 victory over the Madison Mallards.
Yet the night will be a bittersweet one for the MoonDogs as despite emerging victorious, they were eliminated from Northwoods League Playoff contention as the Duluth Huskies were able to win against Eau Claire, keeping them three games ahead of Mankato with two games left in the race for the last North Division playoff berth.
Though the MoonDogs were certainly hoping Friday night wasn’t their last game at the Frank, they were able to finish with a spirited victory, controlling the game from the early going. Mankato first took the lead in the bottom of the second when Josh Fuentes (Saddleback College) blasted a single to center field which was able, with the help of a Mallards error, to bring home Matt Jones (Southern Illinois) and Jonathan Rodriguez (Oklahoma City). Fuentes finished the night batting two for four with three RBIs.
Another three runs in the bottom of the third inning stretched Mankato’s lead to 5-0 and ended the night of Madison pitcher Taylore Cherry (North Carolina). The back end of the MoonDogs’ lineup continued to click as six-seven-eight hitters Rodriguez, Fuentes, and Alex Polston (Seminole St.) rattled off three consecutive singles to bring home the three runs.
Mankato added one more run in the fourth thanks to a John Michael Twichell (UT-Arlington) RBI single before Madison was able to fight back with three runs on three hits in the fifth inning, which brought the score to 6-3 and ended the night for Mankato starter Zach Hobbs (Navarro JC). Hobbs threw four and a third innings stringing out six hits, three earned runs and struck out four on his way to a no-decision.
Reliever Brock Dykxhoorn (West Virginia) pitched brilliantly in relief, throwing the remaining four and two-third innings without giving up a single hit, and fanning eight Mallards. The win brings Dyxkhoorn to a 4-4 record on the season, as he beats the Mallards for the second time in less than a month. His last victory came on July 30 in a 6-2 win over Madison at Warner Park.
The MoonDogs were able to tack on one more run in the sixth inning, when Twichell earned his second RBI of the night on a sacrifice shot which brought home Tim Arakawa (Oklahoma State). Arakawa had another productive day on the plate, finishing three-for-five with a pair of runs scored.
The win brought the MoonDogs (21-12, 38-30 overall) to a 20-15 mark in Mankato for 2013, and a 5-3 record for the season-long eight-game home stand. The victory also brought the MoonDogs to a 2-2 season split with the Mallards, who had already clinched their playoff berth back in July by winning the South Division’s First Half.
Mankato will wrap up their 2013 campaign with a pair of games in St. Cloud as they close out their season series with the Rox at Joe Faber Field. The MoonDogs currently hold a 4-2 edge in the season series, and hope to end their season on a winning note. The series kicks off on Saturday at 6:05 p.m. and concludes with a 7:05 p.m. contest on Sunday night.
The MoonDogs Organization would like to express a heartfelt thank you to all of the fans that have supported the MoonDogs throughout the 2013 season. To follow the MoonDogs in St. Cloud and throughout the off season check out www.mankatomoondogs.com, as well as Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter (@MoonDogsBall).