MoonDogs Glide Past Mud Puppies in First Meeting

Photo taken by Mansoor Ahmad (Mankato MoonDogs)

By: Connor Wachtel

MANKATO, Minn. – The Mankato MoonDogs (14-8) prevailed in their first contest hosting the Minnesota Mud Puppies (3-14) with an 8-2 win, Thursday at ISG Field. 


Leading the way offensively was Evan Berkey (Cal State Bakersfield) who sported a 1-for-3 evening with a three-run home run and sacrifice fly for four total RBI. MoonDogs right-handed starting pitcher Nolan Pender (Bellarmine) stunned the Mud Puppies while allowing one run over seven complete innings of work. He struck out seven while never surrendering a free pass. 


In the fourth frame, the MoonDogs grabbed the first lead with some assistance from an error. After a single slapped the other way to left by Jack Costello (San Diego) got away from the Mud Puppies leftfielder, Berkey capitalized by scoring from first which gave the MoonDogs the game’s first lead, 1-0. 


After the Mud Puppies made their way into the score column in the sixth, the MoonDogs answered quickly with Berkey launching a three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth to make it a 4-1 ballgame.  


The MoonDogs extended their lead to 7-1 in the seventh with an RBI double from Jacob Wilson (Grand Canyon) and back-to-back sacrifice fly outs to right hit by Berkey and Costello. The lead moved to 8-1 when Preston Clifford (Washington State) singled up the middle to score one more. 


The game ultimately finished in an 8-3 decision after the Mud Puppies plated a run in the eighth and ninth innings. Hits in the ballgame were a draw with eight going each way. The Mud Puppies finished with more errors, 2-1. 


Pender, who now stands 2-1, threw seven complete innings of one-run baseball, Thursday. Pender gave up four hits along the way while recording seven strikeouts with no walks. 


Mud Puppies starting arm Jack Liffrig took the loss in the contest. He surrendered one run (unearned) and four hits en route to falling to 0-2 in 2021. Liffrig walked and struck out zero batters. 


The MoonDogs and Mud Puppies rematch at 6:35 p.m., Friday at ISG Field. 



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 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.