After falling just short of a first-half divisional crown, the Mankato MoonDogs picked up where they left off with a pair of walk-off wins in Northwoods League action Wednesday over the Waterloo Bucks. The team is now 18-1 at IMG Field, a sparkling record that includes seven walk-offs. At 26-9 the MoonDogs have the second best overall record in the NWL. University of San Diego freshman Ivran Romero got the start in Game 1 and sparkled in his final outing of the summer, allowing just one earned run in 5 2/3 innings. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, infielder Preston Clifford (Washington State) delivered a bloop single over a drawn-in infield to give Mankato the win. The second game featured more pitching and defense, Waterloo's Ryan Duffy exceeded the league mandated 110-pitch limit by the sixth inning and wilted late, allowing the tying and go-ahead runs to score. The Bucks tied the game with a pair of clutch hits in the seventh, but Mankato reliever Davonte Butler (Cal-State Bakersfield) pitched a spotless eighth inning, leaving his ghost runner stranded at second. Waterloo nearly got out of the eighth unscathed themselves, but a pair of wild pitches allowed designated runner Justin Boyd (Oregon State) to score. "We owe a lot of our success to the fans," Butler said after the game. The MoonDogs travel to Waterloo for their next two games before welcoming the first-half champ St. Cloud Rox at home for a two-game series. The second-half is too early to call, but St. Cloud and Mankato are on a playoff collision course.
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