Mankato Beats Willmar to Earn Series Win

(Mankato, M.N.)- In a contentious, back-and-forth game Saturday night in Mankato, it’d be the home team that would come away with the victory and series win.

The MoonDogs defeated the Stingers 6-5 to earn, not just a series win, but a season series win, beating the Stingers for the seventh time this season. Mankato is now 7-4 against Willmar in 2020.

The Stingers got on the board first as Brennan McKenzie belted his first home run of the season on the first pitch of the inning. However, the MoonDogs rattled off two runs of their own in the bottom half of the third to take a 2-1 lead.

That’s how the next two innings would go, with teams trading runs in succession in the fourth and fifth innings. Willmar scored a run in the fourth as Drey Dirksen drove in a run after a Cesar Lopez double. Then, Mankato answered with an RBI single from Tommy Beres.

The big scoring inning was the fifth, as the Stingers plated three in the inning. Brooks Lee, Kyle Manzardo and Chase Stanke knocked in runs, while Brennan McKenzie cracked a double. In the bottom half of the inning though, Mankato responded well. The MoonDogs put up three of their own to take the lead back as eight batters came to the plate.

From there, the bullpens took over. Nolan Pender of Mankato threw two and a third scoreless innings in relief of starter Christian Johnson to preserve the 6-5 lead. After him, Andre Granillo took over and earned the save as he struck out the final two batters as the Stingers had runners on first and second.

On the mound for Willmar, Trevor Divinski allowed all six of the MoonDogs’ runs in four and two thirds innings of work. Wyatt Thompson took over the rest of the way as he finished the game on the mound, not giving up a run.

The Stingers fall below .500 for the first time this season as they now sit at 19-20. Willmar will sit for two off days before coming back to Mankato to begin a two-game series with the MoonDogs.