MANKATO — La Crosse’s efficient offensive effort Wednesday night at Franklin Rogers Park triggered a 12-2 pounding of the Mankato MoonDogs in the opening game of the best-of-three summer collegiate World Series in front of 648 fans.
Even though the Loggers (52-21) struck out 17 times against Mankato’s Patrick Goelz and Julien Soucy, an 11-hit barrage — including two-run home runs from Matt Chapman and Brandon Bednar — was more than enough to offset all the whiffs. La Crosse left only four runners on base.
“They did a lot of things well tonight,” MoonDogs’ DH Craig Massoni said. “The good thing about baseball is you play more than one game so we get a chance to come out tomorrow and get things to Saturday. We’ve been knocked down before but we’ll get back up.
“This one stings a little bit but we’ll be ready to go and are looking forward to playing in front of a big crowd at their place. Maybe that will fuel a little bit of energy into us. We didn’t have many quality at-bats tonight so we’ll need to get deeper into counts and get something we can hit.”
La Crosse took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second when Richard Prigatano singled through the hole and scored on Bednar’s blast over the left-field fence. Bednar, Kevin Kramer and Tyler Kuresa collected two hits each for the winners with Kramer driving in three runs.
The Loggers added two more runs in the third after Joe Meggs, who scored three runs, lined a one-out single into left field. Goelz, who struck out 11 and walked two in allowing eight hits over 5 2/3 innings, got Kramer looking for the second out before Chapman belted a towering shot to left-center field.
“They hurt us with the long ball,” MoonDogs’ manager Mike Orchard said. “The real bizarre thing was that we struck out 17 guys but Pat left some balls up. They got a couple of two-out home runs and all off a sudden we’re playing from behind.
“They’re obviously a good team but we just didn’t play very well. Mike (Avila) will go out and compete tomorrow and we have two all-star guys (Matt Marsh and Trevor Belichek) in the bullpen so if we can put it together then we have Adam Mott ready for Game 3.”
La Crosse extended its lead to 7-0 in the fourth behind four singles — Kuresa, Bednar, Brenden Farney and Meggs — and a walk. The MoonDogs got to left-hander Alex Gunn for a run in the fourth and another in the sixth before Zach Wright and Bobby Juan shut the door the rest of the way.
Audie Afenir, J.M. Twichell and Massoni all had hits in the fourth frame while Afenir smacked a run-scoring double in the sixth. Afenir and Massoni had two hits each for the ‘Dogs, who ended up with just six hits and five runners left on base.
Gunn allowed six hits over 6 1/3 innings to pick up the win, fanning three and walking one.
The two teams meet in Game 2 at 7:05 today in La Crosse.