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Northwoods Playoffs: MoonDogs take out Stingers

Photo by Pat Christman, Mankato Free Press Willmar Stingers pitcher Michael Hahn (19) can only watch as Mankato MoonDogs' Craig Massoni scores from third on a wild pitch as Stingers catcher J.D. Dorgan scrambles for the ball during the third inning of their playoff game Wednesday at Franklin Rogers Park in Mankato. Mankato's Chad Christensen looks on.

MANKATO -- Back-to-back three-run innings for Mankato marked all the offense the MoonDogs needed to claim a 7-3 victory over the Willmar Stingers and advance to the Summer Collegiate World Series Wednesday night at Franklin Rogers Park.

One night after Willmar claimed its first postseason victory in franchise history, they fell in the decisive Game 3 of the North Division Northwoods League Playoffs.

Mark Lukowski suffered the loss after allowing six runs in 2.1 innings, although three of the runs were unearned against him. Michael Hahn entered the game in the third inning and went the final 5.2 innings, surrendering one unearned run on three hits.

Mankato used three runs in each of the second and third innings to take an early 6-0 lead. Willmar's first run came in the sixth inning, which began with a single to left field by Forrestt Allday. Two batters later, Mitch Rowan tripled to deep right-center field to drive home Allday. Allday, who set two Northwoods League records during the regular season for most walks (77) and runs scored (68) in a single season, finished the playoffs 5-for-10 with two doubles, four walks and four runs scored.

Willmar's final two runs came in the ninth. Rowan and Michael Suchy had back-to-back walks to start the frame and scored on an RBI groundout by Max Kuhn and an RBI single by Hunter Dozier, respectively. The Stingers' only other hit in the contest was provided in the first inning by Suchy. Willmar finished the contest with three runs on four hits.

Willmar's regular season included many highlights in addition to Allday's two individual records. The Stingers set a franchise record for most wins with 41 to earn their first trip to the Northwoods League Playoffs, while Suchy set the franchise record with 62 RBIs in a single year.

As a team, Willmar set a new Northwoods League record with 361 walks.