By: Connor Wachtel
Willmar, Minn. — The Mankato MoonDogs split a day-night doubleheader with the Willmar Stingers on Sunday with a 15-13 loss and 10-5 win.
The Stingers mustered three multi-run innings and a pair of one-run frames en route to a 15-13 win in game one against the MoonDogs Sunday.
After the MoonDogs came back from down six, they took their first lead, 11-9, in the seventh. However, the Stingers took it back in the bottom half after a six-run rally that eventually proved too much for the visiting Dogs.
The big story was the long ball for Mankato with four home runs in Sunday’s first game. Jake Thompson hit a pair of two-run home runs in game one. The Kansas State outfield duo of Dylan Phillips and Zach Kokoska also had a home run each.
The Stingers got on the board first behind a four-run second inning. Thompson hit his first home run of the summer in the fourth to cut the deficit in half. Willmar one upped Mankato in the bottom of the fourth with another trio of runs to make it a 7-2 game. The Stingers added one more in the fifth and would do the same in the sixth, but not before the Dogs could interrupt in the top half.
Phillips blasted his first home run of the summer as part of a sixth-inning, five-run surge. He hit the three-run shot that brought the MoonDogs within two, 9-7.
In the seventh, Thompson and Kokoska brought their big bats out. Each hit two-run home runs, giving the MoonDogs their first lead, 11-9. The Stingers were not having it and countered with another crooked number in the bottom half. It was a six spot and gave Willmar a 15-11 lead.
The MoonDogs mounted a ninth-inning rally with a pair of runs scoring, but failed to get the four needed in order to keep Sunday’s matinee alive and the Stingers won game one, 15-13
Earning the game-one win was Willmar’s Grayson Bray. Bray pitched the eighth and went into the ninth giving up two runs and two hits. Willmar’ two-way closer, Jayson Newman, got the save in Sunday’s first game. He got the game’s final two outs and struck out one in the process.
Thomas Bruss got the MoonDogs loss. Bruss got the final out of the sixth and worked to get another in the seventh but was hit off five times for six runs (five earned). He walked and struck out two.
The MoonDogs salvaged the doubleheader split with a 10-5 win over the Stingers to close out the weekend.
The MoonDogs had game two’s quick start, batting around in the second inning for four runs on five hits and received help from a Willmar error.
Phillips added to his Sunday resume in the fourth inning with another three-run home run to make it 7-0. The Stingers answered with a measly one run in the bottom half and it was 7-1 through four innings.
Willmar added another pair to shrink the deficit to 7-3 in the fifth.
Mankato scored three insurance runs in the seventh. Maddux Houghton led off the inning being hit by a pitch. He later scored when Kokoska drew a bases-loaded walk. Michael Curialle got on and scored on an RBI single slapped by Mason Hull. The scoring rounded out with Phillips adding another RBI to his stat line in the form of a sacrifice fly that made it 10-3. Stingers’ second baseman Griffin Cheney hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh to cut the MoonDogs’ lead in half, 10-5.
Phillips sealed the deal pitching from that point on with a three-inning hold for a MoonDogs 10-5 win.
The winning pitcher in game two was MoonDogs’ right hander Shane Gray. Gray threw six complete innings allowing four hits and three runs (two earned). He walked three but struck out seven. In relief, Phillips continued to make his presence felt. He allowed just one two-run home run in the seventh and a hit in the ninth. Phillips also struck out three and closed the game out to add to his Sunday showing.
Dylan Phillips led the MoonDogs offensively, defensively and even on the mound in Sunday’s doubleheader. He had two home runs, seven RBI and pitched for seven strikeouts. (Image captured by Mansoor Ahmad)
The loss went to Stingers’ starter, Noah Cameron, who went two innings and allowed six hits and four runs.
For tonight’s box scores click HERE.
Mankato (4-12) is back at The Frank tomorrow for the fourth of five games in the series with Willmar (12-3). First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.
The Mankato MoonDogs are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. Having completed its’ 26th season, the Northwoods 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, over 230 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time All-Star and 2016 Roberto Clemente Award winner Curtis Granderson, three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series Champion Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and World Series Champion Chris Sale (BOS). As well as 2019 Rookie of the Year and Home Run Derby Champion Pete Alonso (NYM) and MLB All-Star Jordan Zimmermann (DET). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.mankatomoondogs.com 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.