Written By: Tyler Kuch
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Tuesday’s matchup between the Mankato MoonDogs and Willmar Stingers featured its share of highs and lows for both teams, with the Stingers ultimately prevailing, 8-7.
The Stingers wasted no time getting on the board. A Gabe Swansen double gave Willmar an unearned run right away in the first inning. They would follow up with four more runs off of MoonDogs starter Reece Elston, using a bases-loaded walk, a wild pitch, and a two-run double.
But just when it seemed like the game had the chance to get ugly for the home team, the MoonDogs pounced. Kip Fougerousse crushed a two-run home run to left-center, and Max Williams followed up with a solo shot to right field two batters later. After three innings, the score was 5-3, Stingers.
Aided in part by an error in right field, the Stingers were able to squeeze an unearned run off of MoonDogs pitcher Grant Garza, the only run they would score in his five innings of work.
Still, the MoonDogs refused to go away. After the first two batters reached base in the fifth, Brendan Hord smoked a three-run homer off the pitch clock in left field to tie the game at six, and reset the game completely.
With a scoreless sixth inning (the first inning neither team scored), the Dogs came up to bat in the bottom of the seventh, still tied at six. Fougerousse led off with a walk, moved up to second on a wild pitch, and came around to score on a Nolan Tichy single into short left-center field. The MoonDogs had the lead for the first time in the time and, after a scoreless inning of work from Mitch Casperson, would head to the ninth looking to close it out.
Kasten Furr drew a walk off of MoonDogs closer Myles Meyer, and stole second base to put himself in scoring position. After a strikeout, Furr later would move to third on a groundout to second base. With Kevin Fitzer on the plate, down to his last strike, Furr came home on a wild pitch to tie the game at seven.
The wild pitch ended up not mattering, however, because Fitzer launched a home run seconds later to give the Stingers the lead, and ultimately the game 8-7. The Stingers move to 12-2 while the MoonDogs fall to 7-9. After an off day on Wednesday, the MoonDogs will be back at ISG Field on Thursday for the first of a two-game set against the Minot Hot Tots. First pitch is at 6:35.