THUNDER BAY, ONT. — The Mankato MoonDogs' ninth-inning rally came up one run short on Friday as Thunder Bay held on for a 7-6 Northwoods League baseball victory at Port Arthur Stadium.
The MoonDogs looked as if they were going to run away with it, jumping to a 5-0 lead after 3 1/2 innings. The early scoring prowess was the result of an RBI single from Brinn Bell in the first, a passed ball that scored Brett Synek and a sacrifice fly by Tyler Sullivan in the second and Synek's two-run homer in the top of the fourth.
However, the Border Cats picked up runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings before exploding for a four-run home half of the eighth. That gave Thunder Bay at 7-5 lead heading into the ninth.
Mankato rallied again in the final frame. Eric Schenck-Jablinski led off the inning by drawing a walk. Two outs later, Peter Maris drove in a run with a long single. Maris was left stranded, however, as Levi Scott made the final out to end the game.
Synek ended up 3 for 3 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Maris and Dalton DeLeon added two hits apiece.
Ben Allison earned the win in relief while Den McElmore picked up the save. The MoonDogs' Austin Warner took the loss, giving up three earned runs on four hits in 1.1 innings of relief. James McMahon started for Mankato and allowed one earned run on two hits through five innings.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for Mankato. The MoonDogs (16-9) remain in second place in the North Division of the NWL with a 16-9 record. Willmar is in first at 16-5.
The MoonDogs and Border Cats play again today at 6:05 p.m. to wrap up the two-game set at Port Arthur Stadium.