MANKATO-Minn. The MoonDogs needed a win to stay in the playoff hunt on Friday evening and Peter Maris delivered, knocking a base hit to center field in the eleventh inning of Friday night’s game at Franklin Rogers Park to give Mankato a 3-2 walk off victory against the Rochester Honkers.
The bottom of the eleventh began with a Patrick Massoni pinch hit walk. Ridge Smith then layed down a bunt and Honkers pitcher Brandon Stennis threw the ball to second, not in time to get the force out on Massoni.
With two aboard, Tyler Sullivan was able to lay down a bunt with a 2-2 count and again Stennis decided to go for the force out at third but was not in time. Then with the bases loaded, Brett Synek hit into a 4-2-3 double play, putting runners on second and third with two outs and Peter Maris at the plate. Maris found the pitch he was looking for and drove Massoni home with a line drive to center field, ending the game.
The MoonDogs late game offensive heroics would not have been possible if not for the work of relievers Jacob Westerhouse and Tyler Mark out of the bullpen. Westerhouse threw 2.1 innings and allowed a pair of hits and Tyler Mark pitched the last three, giving up just one hit and striking out seven. One of those strikeouts came at a crucial point. With two outs in the top of the eleventh, Mark fanned Honkers left fielder Jordan Smith with runners at first and second, this after he struck out the first two hitters of the inning.
Mankato (20-14) came into Friday night’s game 1.5 games behind the division leading Waterloo Bucks and with a win and a Waterloo loss on the night, the MoonDogs have closed the gap to a half game of a playoff spot with two games to go in the regular season schedule. They will go on the road to play the Eau Claire Express Saturday and Sunday night. Fans can follow all the action on mankatomoondogs.com or listen to the game live on AM1230 The Fan Mankato with the voice of the team Josh Horton.
The Mankato MoonDogs are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 21st season of summer collegiate baseball, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 115 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (DET) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Allen Craig (STL) and Ben Zobrist (TB). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League YouTube channel. For more information, visit www.mankatomoondogs.com.