The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

June 7, 2014

MoonDogs rally for win; 4 players get drafted

O'Neil's pinch-hit single wins the game

MANKATO — The Mankato MoonDogs rallied from a 3-0 deficit and scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth on Friday to win 4-3 over the Eau Claire Express in Northwoods League baseball action.

Tied 3-3 going into the bottom of the eighth at Franklin Rogers Park, MoonDogs’ second baseman Brett Synek drilled a double to the left-center field fence. After a sac bunt by third baseman Dave Petrino, head coach Mike Orchard brought in Spencer O’Neil to pinch hit, and he came through.

O’Neil lifted the ball into center field, just 15 feet out of the infield, but the outfielder lost the ball in the lights, allowing Synek to come in and give the MoonDogs the lead.

After starter Dillon Williams went through five innings allowing six hits and three earned runs and striking out two batters, relievers Tyler Mark and Jacob Westerhouse finished the game strong. They allowed only one hit between them as Westerhouse earned the win.

“I’m really proud of them. Mark did great and Westerhouse came in and does what he does, getting groundballs,” Orchard said. “They did a great job.”

Every year a few MoonDogs players receive the call from a general manager of a Major League Baseball team informing them that they’ve been drafted. So far, four MoonDogs, two of them on the current roster, received the call they have been waiting for all their lives.

“It’s a dream come true for those guys,” Orchard said. “Whether if they are drafted in the fourth, the eighth, 10th or the 30th.”

The first MoonDog to get the nod was former pitcher Sam Clay. The 2013 MoonDog was drafted in the fourth round (110th overall) by the Minnesota Twins.

He had problems with his control last summer, striking out 37 and walking 38 batters in 34.2 innings pitched. He seemed to conquet that problem at Georgia Tech this spring, throwing 57 innings from the bullpen and walking 29 batters while striking out 64. He also had a team-best 1.26 ERA and eight saves.

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