Written by Connor Wachtel
MANKATO, Minn. – Thanks to Boston Merila’s (Minnesota) heroics late in Monday’s Northwoods League contest between the Mankato MoonDogs and La Crosse Loggers, the host MoonDogs were 8-7 walk-off winners in the bottom of the ninth.
The MoonDogs, who now stand 27-22 overall, are back to one game over .500 in the second-half standings at a 9-8 clip. The Loggers are now 26-25 with a 10-7 record in the second half following the loss.
Boston Merila (Minnesota) was the hero of Monday night’s game. He claimed the walk-off knock when he beat out a chopper to short with two outs in the ninth inning, which allowed the game-winning run in Ariel Armas (San Diego) to score from third for the victory. Merila finished the night three-for-five with three RBI. He also had a clutch eighth-inning hit that cut the deficit to two.
On the first pitch in the bottom half of the second inning, Charles McAdoo (San Jose State) put the MoonDogs in the score column first when he launched his third home run of the summer out to left. Following back-to-back RBI groundouts by Mikey Gottschalk (Minnesota State – Mankato) and Merila later in the second, Mankato carried a 3-0 advantage over La Crosse after two innings of play.
The MoonDogs’ lead was extended to 4-0 in the bottom of the third when McAdoo popped out to right deep enough for Brendan Hord (Evansville) to score from third on a sacrifice fly.
In the fourth frame, Emilio Corona (Arizona) singled to center with two outs and the bases loaded to cut the deficit in half to 4-2. The Loggers tied the game 4-4 in the fifth by scoring on a wild pitch and RBI single to center by Xavier Casserilla (Wichita State).
La Crosse claimed its first lead of the game in the top of the seventh by plating three runs to take a 7-4 lead. Luke Leto (LSU) capped the rally with an RBI knock that blooped over the first baseman’s head and resulted in a double.
Mankato mounted a comeback in the eighth when Merila singled through the left side to score McAdoo, cutting the deficit to 7-5. In the ninth, the MoonDogs loaded the bases for Derek Shoen (UMary), who wore a pitch to shrink the deficit to one. After a wild pitch tied the game, Merila stepped into the box and called game on the third pitch he saw and chopped to short, but beat out with a desperation dive into first. He was safe and the MoonDogs ultimately claimed an 8-7 walk-off win over the Loggers, Monday night at ISG Field.
TJ Martin (St. Scholastica) threw four and two-thirds of an inning as the MoonDogs’ starting arm, Monday night. Martin was hit off five times for four runs (three earned). He walked four batters with a pair of strikeouts in the mix. Jakob Meyer (Evansville) picked up the win after dealing out a scoreless ninth inning. He now stands at 2-0 on the summer.
The MoonDogs rematch the Loggers Tuesday night at 6:35 p.m. to conclude the two-game series and six-game homestand. John Lundgren (Illinois) is scheduled to be the MoonDogs’ starting arm for Tuesday’s affair.
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’ 28th 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 280 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 (NYM), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist 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 2021 All-Star, MLB Gold Glove winner and 2019 Second Team All-MLB shortstop Marcus Semien (TEX). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. League games are viewable live at watchnwl.com. 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.