The Mankato MoonDogs tuned up for a pivotal two-game series with Duluth with a record-setting performance Saturday night in front of 1,204 fans at Franklin Rogers Park in Mankato.
First baseman John Michael Twichell belted a pair of towereing home runs over the right-field fence to set a franchise record for career home runs (22) as the MoonDogs pummeled hapless Thunder Bay 27-5, setting a Northwoods League record for runs in a game and tying the largest margin of victory. In all, the ‘Dogs unleashed a 21-hit barrage against the pitching-challenged Border Cats (19-43 overall, 6-21 in second half).
“This was a crazy one,” Twichell, said of Mankato’s season-best fifth straight win. “We just kept hitting the ball and they kept falling in for us.
“I was just trying to sit back and make it like a normal game. It was one of those games where you could kind of get yourself out or do good. I am not sure yet what the record means, it’s all kind of settling in but even though I am just trying to win games, it’s pretty cool.
“Our pitchers and hitters have been back each other up all year and it was huge for us to get seven innings from Zach (Hobbs). We were able to put some runs up for him and then he threw a great game. It’s going to come down to who has the most inensity over the final week of the year so we’ll come out with that intensity every game and see what happens.”
Mankato (35-27, 18-9) put up some gaudy offensive numbers in closing within one game of Duluth and a half a game from Willmar in the chase to face Waterloo in the North Division division series championship. Four players — Tim Arakawa, Chase Simpson, Twichell and Zack Zehner — ripped three hits apiece for the MoonDogs while Arakawa and Simpson each scored five runs.