The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Jim Rueda

June 27, 2012

Rueda: MoonDogs are as hot as the weather

Wednesday was a rare off day for the Mankato MoonDogs baseball team and the club went into its 24-hour break with the best record in the Northwoods League at 21-7.

The ’Dogs lead the North Division by 2 1/2 games. The La Crosse Loggers have an impressive 20-7 record and lead the South Division by three games.

A quick look at the NWL stats shows that the MoonDogs are winning with balance as opposed to being overly strong in any one area.

Their strongest suit is their offense. They are third in the league in batting with a .283 team average. The stats show that Mankato is first in runs scored (198), first in slugging percentage (.433) and first in total hits.

The MoonDogs have three players batting at least .300. They are Nick Ratajczak (.379), Blair Moore (.351) and J.M. Twitchell (.338).

Mankato is also third in pitching with a team earned-run average of .308. The team is tied for first in shutouts with four.

Zach Hall has been on fire in his two starts and four relief appearances. Through 26 1/3 innings he has a league-leading 0.68 ERA. Teammate Wayland Moore is 2-0 with a 2.42 ERA.

Defensively, Mankato has been solid as well. First baseman/third baseman Craig Massoni has yet to make an error in 20 games. Infielder Blair Moore is fielding .984 through 18 games and outfielder Twitchell is fielding .977 through 15 games.

The Loyola connection

The Mankato Legion National Post 11 baseball team has struggled out of the gate this season, getting off to a 2-7 start. The team hasn’t been blown out in many games and will likely win more consistently as the season progresses.

One of the reasons for optimism is the play of the team’s seven-man Loyola contingent. Left-handed pitcher/first baseman Zach Mullin, catcher Sane Sellner and center fielder Blake Matuska all have been producing well for the Nationals.

Four more Loyola products — Charlie Sorenson, Evan Ellingworth, Kyle Reynolds and Andy Sweere — have been effective when asked to produce.

“We’re fortunate to have them,” Post 11 coach Jamie Mulvihill said. “They may be from a smaller school than the East or West kids but they’ve proved they can play at this level. I don’t know where we’d be without them.”

Mullin is All-State

Speaking of Mullin, Loyola head coach John Landkamer announced this week that the senior lefty has been named to the 2012 Class A Coaches Association All-State team.

During the high school season he was 6-0 with a 1.76 ERA over 5 1/3 innings. He gave up 49 hits, struck out 73 and walked 11.

Mullin, who was also named to the All-Section 2A team, had a 22-7 career record for the Crusaders. Mullin and teammates Ellingworth, Jake Clements and Sellner were each named to the All-Gopher Conference team. Sweere, Matuska and Sorenson were each honorable mention All-Gopher.

As a team, the Crusaders received the Academic Gold Award with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.57.

Jim Rueda is The Free Press sports editor. To contact him call 344-6381 or email jrueda@mankatofreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @jimrueda.

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