MANKATO — The Mankato MoonDogs game Friday night at Franklin Rodgers Park against the Thunder Bay Border Cats looked a lot like Thursday night’s game. The outcome and the score were the same, a 5-4 Mankato victory. Mankato held an early before Thunder Bay staged another late inning rally.
But how they won was different as David Andriese came off the bench and delivered a pinch-hit game-winning home run in the eighth inning, allowing the MoonDogs to extend their franchise record win streak to 11 games.
Mankato starting pitcher Seth Webster tossed 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on five hits, while striking out five. He got out of a no-outs and bases-loaded jam in the second with the help of left fielder Craig Massoni. Thunder Bay’s Justin Higley flew out to Massoni, but Patrick Gallagher stayed put at third base while Massoni threw a strike home for the first out. Payden Cawley Lamb then hit a single in front of Massoni, allowing Gallagher to score, but Massoni threw another strike home to get Danny Bethea out trying to score from second.
“That was the biggest play of the game,” said Webster. "That took every bit of momentum they were about to get away from them.”
While Massoni helped hold the Border Cats to just one run in the second inning, the MoonDogs countered with two in their half of the frame with a two-out rally. Trey Nielsen walked and Zach Luevanos reached on a hit by pitch. Trever Allen drove them both in with a triple to deep right-center, giving Mankato a 2-1 lead.
The MoonDogs extended that lead to 4-1 in the fifth with the most unusual of double plays that you will ever see. With the bases loaded, Chris Munoz hit a shot to deep center that was caught on a nice running play by Thunder Bay’s Omar Cotto. Kyle Turner tagged up from third to score and Chad Christensen tagged up from 2nd while Cotto laid on the ground with an apparent leg injury. Personnel from both teams came out to assist Cotto for nearly ten minutes. When play resumed, Thunder Bay pitcher Wes Parsons stepped off the mound threw to second for an appeal to see if Christensen tagged up properly. The umpire ruled that he did not and called Christensen out. Mankato manager Mike Orchard came out to argue the call, but to no avail.
After Thunder Bay fought back to tie the game at 4 in the seventh, David Andriese lead off the eighth inning pinch hitting for Massoni. He sent a Chad Richie offering to deep right that appeared to bounce off the glove of the right fielder and over the fence for the go ahead home run. Andriese says pinch hitting is a process.
“Later in the game, when the substitutions usually happen, you start getting yourself ready and prepared,” he said. “I enjoy those types of situations.”
Patrick Goelz pitched the ninth to record his 11th save of the season for Mankato’s 11th straight victory.
“We come out here every day and we expect to win,” said Webster. “When we play with confidence we expect good things to happen; more times than not they do.”