THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO – As the birds of Bismarck packed their bags and headed for Canada, one thing they remembered to bring was lights out pitching.
The Bismarck Larks defeated the Thunder Bay Border Cats 3-1 in the team’s first ever visit to Port Arthur Stadium.
Conner Perry, after leading off the ballgame with a single, stole second base, and on the very same pitch caught the Border Cats defense sleeping as he scampered to an unoccupied third base. Perry got the Larks (4-5) on the board as he scored on a wild pitch later in the inning.
Andy Lalonde made his eighth start as a member of the Larks rotation looking to build upon one of his better appearances last time out against this same Border Cats (3-5) team.
The big fella would deliver.
From the get-go Lalonde was shimmying his way out of jams. In his first two innings of work he had to retire batters with a runner on third.
With one out in the bottom of the first inning and a runner on third, Lalonde used back-to-back swinging strikeouts to record a shutdown inning and preserve a 1-0 lead. Following a 5-4-3 double play in the bottom of the second inning, Lalonde used his third and final strikeout of the game to keep yet another runner stranded on third base.
The Larks offense added two runs of support in the top of the fourth inning when Cooper Coldiron drove in Scooter Bynum with a sacrifice fly and Wyatt Ulrich flared an RBI single into center scoring Noah Sadler.
This would be all the runs the Larks would get off both the starter Jake Mielock and the Border Cats bullpen. Mielock brought a 1.21 ERA into tonight’s contest, but the Larks were able to get to him early as he finished with just five innings of work allowing three earned runs on five hits.
Though the Larks had a 3-0 lead, the Border Cats repeatedly threatened as they successfully placed a runner in scoring throughout the rest of the game.
In Lalonde’s final inning of work in the bottom of the sixth, he was called upon to work some magic once again.
After finally surrendering a run on an RBI groundout by Brendan Dougherty, Lalonde walked the next batter in Dayne Sommer to load the bases for the second time in the inning. The previous five innings of work proved as preparation for Lalonde as he once again got the Larks out of a jam inducing a groundout of Andy Weber to end the inning.
Lalonde’s night was complete as he tossed six innings of one run baseball while allowing seven hits. The Larks then turned to Zach Walz out of the bullpen.
Walz took a page out of Lalonde’s book and decided to put runners on just to strand them in scoring position.
In the bottom of the seventh inning with no outs and runners on first and second, Walz induced three straight groundouts not allowing a run to cross home plate.
After Walz retired the first batter of the bottom of the eighth inning, but allowed back-to-back baserunners, Jeff Lindgren was called upon for the five-out save.
Lindgren followed suit of getting out of trouble when he used just two pitches to end the eighth inning as both Weber and Colton Thomas flew out to Bynum in centerfield.
It almost wouldn’t have felt right if there wasn’t another jam the Larks had to get themselves out of in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Lindgren allowed a couple of base hits allowing the game-winning run to step into the batter’s box. He responded by striking out Braden Mosley and getting Jean Francois Garon to groundout to end the game and give the Larks their 20th victory on the season.
Thunder Bay was able to record 11 hits on the night, but only pushed across one run. The Border Cats finished an abysmal 1 for 19 with runners in scoring position.
After tallying just three hits the night before, the Larks didn’t have the offensive outpour they were hoping for. Although the three runs were enough in this contest, the offense is hitting a combined .150 in their last two outings.
The offense will look to break out and hopefully back up another good pitching performance as Carson Selin gets his first start of the year.
First pitch for the second game of the four game series is set for 7:05pm ET.
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The Bismarck Larks are apart of the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The 23-year old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 170 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champion Ben Zobrist (CHC) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM) and Lucas Duda (NYM). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. For more information, visit www.northwoodsleague.com or download the Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play