Photo taken by Mansoor Ahmad (Mankato MoonDogs)
By: Connor Wachtel
WILLMAR, Minn. – The Mankato MoonDogs (6-5) dropped the first game of four in a home-and-home series 8-4 to the Willmar Stingers (8-3), Thursday at Bill Taunton Stadium.
The MoonDogs rallied from down six to come within four late and had the tying run up to bat in the ninth but struggled to make something happen before falling to the Stingers 8-4.
Mankato had one lead in the ballgame when they scored first in the top of the second after Cole Andavolgyi (Golden West) scored on an RBI single hit to center by Luke Beckstein (Kansas State) to give the MoonDogs a 1-0 lead in the second. However, the Stingers responded quick with three runs in the bottom half of the second to take a 3-1 lead.
In the top of the third, Adrian Torres (Grand Canyon) hit his second home run of the season, a solo shot over the rightfield foul pole, to decrease the deficit to 3-2.
The Stingers then jumped out to an 8-2 lead with one run in the fourth and four others in the fifth, leaving the MoonDogs trailing by six.
Mankato chipped away at the lead with a pair of runs in the seventh after Torres drove in more runs with Josh Urps (Cal State Fullerton) and Andavogyi scoring on the play to shrink the Stingers lead to 8-4.
In the ninth, the MoonDogs loaded the bases to bring the tying run to the plate but came up short and fell by the final score of 8-4.
Torres had a big night offensively for the MoonDogs. He went 3-for-5 with a double that scored a pair and hit a solo home run.
Both sides finished with nine hits in the first game of the series. However, the MoonDogs struggled defensively with a pair of errors while the Stingers had no defensive miscues.
Earning the win for the Stingers was Dennis Boatman, who now rides a 2-0 record this summer. Boatman pitched six innings, allowed five hits, surrendered four runs (two earned), walked one and struck out eight. Jacob Webb came up with his third save of the summer when inherited a bases-loaded jam in the ninth and ended the game with a strikeout.
Owen Boerema (Northwestern – St. Paul) suffered his first loss of the season Thursday to fall to 1-1 this season. Boerema worked 4.1 innings while giving up six hits and six runs. He walked four and struck out four along the way.
The MoonDogs return home Friday to host the Stingers for three more games in three days. The first pitch at ISG Field is slated 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’ 27th 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.