After a 30 minute delay due to miscommunication with the umpires, the Mankato MoonDogs blanked the Eau Claire Express, 14-0.
The MoonDogs wasted no time, scoring five runs in the first inning off of Express pitcher, Cody Dye, on five hits, including four doubles from Toby Hanson, Ethan Valdez, Alvaro Rubalcaba, and Jake Ortega. Another run was added in the second inning on a sacrifice fly from Valdez. But the MoonDogs, playing in their “Summer St. Patricks Day” green jerseys, were not done scoring. Three more runs came across the plate in the third inning, off of three different Express pitchers. The inning was highlighted by an RBI triple from Daniel Amaral, the MoonDogs’ newest addition.
After a rare scoreless inning in the fourth, the MoonDogs came back to score again in the fifth, on an error by second baseman, Scott Ogrin. They added four more runs in the sixth, with help from Kyle Cuellar’s bases clearing double.
Nick Belzer had his best outing of the season, not allowing a run in 5.1 innings of two-hit ball, striking out five and walking one, before giving way to Jake Shepski, an outfielder on most days, who shut the Express down the rest of the way to complete the shutout. Dye went 2+ innings for the Express, giving up seven earned runs. Relievers Ben Butler, Jake Moebius, and Jake Evans combined to pitch the final four innings.
It was a great day at the plate for the MoonDogs. Hanson, Rubalcaba, and Ortega each had two hits, with Hanson’s hits both doubles. Valdez and Cuellar added 3 RBIs apiece. The Express didn’t have quite as much success as their counterparts, accumulating only three hits, from Zach Gilles, Ogrin, and Rudy Rott.
With the win, the MoonDogs improve to 15-15, while the Express drop to 13-17. The two teams won’t have to wait long to play each other again. After a thirty minute break, the second game of the double header is scheduled to begin, making up a game that was rained out in Eau Claire on June 12.