The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

July 10, 2014

MoonDogs fall behind early, can't rally

Starting pitcher had rare poor outing

The Mankato MoonDogs gave up five runs in the first three innings and couldn’t produce a comeback, losing 10-4 to the Duluth Huskies in a Northwoods League baseball game Thursday at Franklin Rogers Park.

Starter Taylor Elman came into the matchup with a 4-0 record and 3.16 ERA, but he had troubles getting the third out of the first inning, giving up two runs.

After MoonDogs’ shortstop Peter Maris’s RBI single in the bottom of the first, the visitors busted open a three-run third inning. With the bases loaded, Huskies’ center fielder Michael Tinsley knocked in two with a double slicing down the third-base line. Vinnie Rodriguez hit a sacrifice fly for the third run before they were retired.

Elman and the MoonDogs allowed one more run to cross the plate before his night was finished in the sixth inning. Reliever Matt Wilson gave up four earned runs of his own in just 2/3 innings, including hitting a batter with the bases loaded.

MoonDogs’ catcher Ridge Smith went 2 for 4 with a double and a solo home run to left. The freshman from Austin Peay has been on the roster since the start of the season, and in the last week has become an everyday guy in the lineup.

He has great power at the plate, becoming the new home run leader for the MoonDogs with five, but he still has some work to improve behind the plate.

“Catching, he still has a little ways to go,” MoonDogs manager Mike Orchard said. “He has power, and he now needs to hone the skills into more focused at-bats and more focused defensively.”

Lefty Austin Warner came in and threw 3 1/3 productive innings, not allowing a run and striking out four batters.

Thursday night’s attendance was 1,590, which is the largest so far this season.

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