MANKATO — Thursday was only Josh Fuentes’ fifth game in a Mankato MoonDogs uniform and his first game in front of the home fans at Franklin Rogers Park.
The freshman from Saddleback College has added a spark to the MoonDogs lineup and made a good first impression to the Mankato fans as he hit a 3-run home run in his initial Mankato at-bat. The blow helped the MoonDogs defeat Willmar 10-7 in the first game of a pair of 7-inning contests in Northwoods League baseball action.
“I always like to bring a little energy to the team,” said Fuentes. “Whether it’s me or it’s anybody else, I’m just glad we’re all hitting and we’re all gelling and playing really well.”
The MoonDogs countered two Willmar first-inning runs in a big way by scoring six in their half of the first.
Timothy Arakawa and Matt Jones led with with a walk and single, respectively. Arakawa came home on an RBI groundout from Chase Simpson. Zack Zehner singled moving Jones to third before Fuentes’ big 3-run blast.
“He (Fuentes) has been a great addition,” said Mankato manager Mike Orchard. “He’s been great at short for us and also swinging the bat well with a 3-run home run.”
Mankato didn’t stop swinging the bats in the first. Quinnton Mack walked and stole second. Jonathan Rodriguez brought him home with a single to right. Rodriguez moved to third on a double to center by Woody Woodward and later scored on an RBI groundout from Matt Wollenzin.
“Coming into the dugout down two runs is not always good,” said Fuentes. “The lead off guy gets on, the next guy gets on, we rally with our bats and it becomes a big momentum shift.”
Fuentes went 2-for-4 in his home debut with a run and 3 RBIs. Rodriguez was 2-for-2 with two runs scored and an RBI and Woodward went 2-for-3.