By Connor Wachtel
Eau Claire, Wis. – The Mankato MoonDogs fell in extras to the Eau Claire Express on Tuesday night. The final score was 5-4 as a sacrifice fly proved to be the difference in the bottom of the tenth.
BOX SCORE: Eau Claire 5, Mankato 4
The scoring began with the MoonDogs plating one in the first frame. It was an RBI single off Tanner Craig’s (Evansville) bat to score Dayton Dooney (Arizona).
The Express responded in the bottom of the third. A pair of runs were scored when Spencer Myers (Notre Dame) notched an RBI single that scored two, giving Eau Claire a 2-1 advantage.
Mankato one upped Eau Claire when Mikey Perez (UCLA) left the yard in the next half inning. The home run scored two as Craig was on base during the at bat. It gave the Dogs a 3-2 lead after four.
Perez added another run for insurance in the sixth, scoring Craig again. This time the RBI hit came in the form of a single to up the Dogs lead to 4-2.
The seventh inning saw the Express even the score with a pair of runs. Cole Cabrera (Cal Poly) roped a double to score Nick Lopez (Illinois – Chicago) for the first tally. Following it up was Myers scoring Cabrera to notch his 3rd RBI on the night.
From there, the game would need extra innings to declare the winner. The Express did just that in the bottom half of the tenth. It all started with Lopez on second via the international tie breaker rule. Cabrera moved Lopez over with a sac bunt to get things started. In the next at bat, Brandon Dieter (Stanford) flew out to center deep enough to score the game’s winning run. The Express won it in a 5-4 final.
Perez was the MoonDogs main source of offense in the loss. He recorded three RBI and a run scored in his 3-5 batting line. He led the way by smashing his 2nd round tripper of the summer in the fourth.
Eau Claire’s reliever who entered in the midst of the eighth inning, Nick Herold (Winona State), earned the win. He pitched the final 2.1 innings for the Express and was the only Eau Claire pitcher who appeared that didn’t surrender a run. He allowed a hit, a walk and struck out four.
The MoonDogs southpaw, Brett Newberg (Austin Peay), had a solid night on the hill. Newberg went eight innings out of the starting role allowing nine hits and four runs. He also struck out six while handing out no free passes. The loss was given to Hayden Juenger (Missouri State) who allowed the lone run in the tenth. Juenger didn’t allow a hit in his 1.2 innings of work and he struck out one Express batter.
Due up for the Dogs:
Tomorrow the Mankato MoonDogs (12-17) take on the Eau Claire Express (14-15) for game two, the finale of the series. Nick Schmidt (Missouri State) will represent the Dogs as the starting pitcher. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. at Carson Park in Eau Claire, Wis.
The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. The 25-year old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 22 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, 225 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), World Series Champion Chris Sale (BOS) and MLB All-Stars Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (MIA). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. For more information, visit www.northwoodsleague.com or download the Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the MoonDogs as your favorite team.