The Brainerd Blue Thunder have had their share of offensive struggles.
Coming in to Monday's game against the Mankato MoonDogs Brainerd had a team batting average of .206. That did not change Monday as the Thunder lost 10-2.
Despite just the two hits, Brainerd manager Jeff Cammann saw improvement in his team's hitting approach.
"At bat wise it was a lot better," he said. "We squared up on a lot more balls than we have throughout the season. I've been preaching my philosophy. Fly balls are easy to catch, but with balls on the ground you have to worry about fielding it cleanly and making a good throw. I've been telling the guys to hit the ball hard on the ground or on a line and make something happen with our speed."
Brainerd fell behind early as the MoonDogs scored two runs in the second inning on a triple by leadoff hitter Michael Rockett.
Rockett also ignited a four-run fourth as he drove in another run with a single and later scored. He finished with three hits and four RBIs.
Mankato scored two more runs in the fifth and one in each the sixth and seventh to complete its offensive barrage.
The Thunder also struggled in the field committing five errors including three in the fifth inning.
"Five errors in a game is tough," Cammann said, "We have to limit that obviously, but at the same time that is part of baseball."
The Thunder scored both of their runs in the fifth inning as Codi Harshman, who reached on a dropped third strike, and Greg Garcia, who collected one of Brainerd's hits, each scored on wild pitches by Mankato starter Blake Devries.
Despite losing both of their games to the MoonDogs (14-3) in the two-game series Cammann sees the opportunity for his team to compare themselves to the division leaders as an important step in turning the season around.
"I told the guys last night they (Mankato) do the little things," he said. "They make plays, move runners and get bunts down. We are just a step behind right now. I know we will get there soon, but this is a good measuring tool for us. We have them again in a couple weeks and hopefully get a chance to see how we measure up."
Mankato 020 421 100 - 10 12 0
Brainerd 000 020 000 - 2 2 5
Mankato: Blake Devries, Josh Castanza (8), James Dale (8) and Kyle Knudson. Brainerd: Casey Geiger, Michael Gedman (4), D. Ramirez (8) and Trey Lucas.
WP: Devries (2-0). LP: Geiger (1-2).
2B: M-Mike Lobacz. 3B: M-Michael Rockett. HBP: Rockett, Knudson, C.J. Belanger; Brd-Lucas. SB: M-Alex Foltz; Brd-Jared McDonald. RBI: M-Rockett 4, Carlos Ramirez, Lobacz, Tony Strazzara. DP: M 1. LOB: M 17, Brd 6.
Time: 2:50. Attendance: 420. Overall: Mankato 14-3, Brainerd 4-9. Next game: Brainerd at Alexandria 6:05 p.m. Tuesday.
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