Mankato, Minn. — The Mankato MoonDogs were back in action at Franklin Rogers Park on Wednesday, July 4th with a second-half matchup against the Bismarck Larks. The MoonDogs defeated the Larks 9-4, a team which wrapped up a first-half championship on Tuesday evening.
The Larks were first to score in the contest. A solo homerun to left field by Trenton Carranza (New Mexico State) gave the Larks the temporary advantage in the top of the second. The MoonDogs offense provided an answer in the bottom half of the inning as Austin Bull (Grand Canyon) was able to drive in CJ Huntley (Indiana State) from third base.
The scoring continued in the third inning for both clubs. The Larks regained the lead scoring two runs in the top half of the inning while a two-RBI double by Kyle MacDonald (Arkansas State) tied the ballgame at three. Jake Shepski added two RBIs with a single of his own in the bottom of the fourth to give Mankato their first lead of the game at 5-3. MacDonald leads the MoonDogs with 37 RBIs this season.
The scoring did not stop there however. Bismarck added a run in top of the sixth to narrow Mankato’s advantage. Carranza went yard for the second time in the ballgame, pulling the Larks to within a single run and tallying his third homerun of the season.
The MoonDogs scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth to give Mankato some insurance. Shepski, and Macdonald gained RBI singles, while Cuellar flew out to right field, recording a sac fly.
With the win, the MoonDogs are now 22-15 overall and hold a second half record of 1-0. Adam Lukas started on the mound for Mankato and went six complete innings. Lukas struck out 11 of the 25 batters he faced and only allowed four hits. Lukas sits second in the league with 43 total strikeouts this year. In relief for the MoonDogs today was Nick Belzer (Minnesota State). Belzer came in and tossed three scoreless innings allowing only a single hit and gaining the save.
Huntley had a game-high three hits for the MoonDogs while three others had multiple hits in the game. Shepksi and MacDonald each drove in three runs for Mankato this afternoon.
The MoonDogs will host the Larks at 7:05 at The Frank on Thursday.
The Mankato MoonDogs are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Now in its 25th anniversary season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 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 190 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (TOR). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit https://northwoodsleague.com/mankato-moondogs/ or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the MoonDogs as your favorite team.