Border Cats shortstop Ty Blankmeyer scores after Willmar catcher Brett Barbier loses the ball during a play at home plate Friday night at Tbaytel Park.  The Stingers won 5-4 in 11 innings.  (Photo courtesy of Border Cats staff)

Tyler Rolland (Southern Illinois University) delivered a Northwoods League Player of the Night performance at TBaytel Park in front of a crowd of 962, but even that was not enough as the Thunder Bay Border Cats (1-2, 15-23) dropped a close contest in eleven innings 5-4 to the Willmar Stingers (1-2, 23-10). Rolland went 2-4 with three RBI's and a run scored in the game. The Border Cats had a 3-run lead evaporate late and had to claw back to force extras.

Rolland was followed in the cleanup spot by Nick Studer (Doane College) who went 2-5 as the only Cats with multi-hit games. Centrefielder Jacob Robson (Mississippi State) made his debut, going 1-4 with a walk, a run scored and a stolen base. Sal Taormina (Kean University) also went 1-2 with a walk.

The six through nine hitters for the Stingers though had a monster night in every sense of the term. Hutton Moyer, Frankie Rios, Sean Beesley and Dan Motl went a combined 11-18 with a BB, an RBI and four runs scored. Beesley led the way 4-4 with a walk and Moyer hit a solo home run in the 7th to lead off the inning.

Both starting pitchers got no decisions despite strong outings. Thunder Bay starter Ryan Powers (University of Miami-Ohio) went six innings allowing one run spreading five hits and walking two. His Stinger counterpart A.J. Puckett, making his debut start allowed just two hits while walking two and whiffing five through a four inning start.

Ben Allison (Belhaven University) took the loss (2-3) for the Cats as he worked 3 2/3 innings giving up the game winning run while allowing five hits and walking two. Matt Geislinger (3-0) took the victory for the Singers as he faced nine hitters and retired them in order in the 8th, 9th and 10th allowing one hit and striking out one, pitching shutout baseball. Brady Anderson, one of the Stingers starters came in to shut things down nabbing his second save allowing two hits in the 11th.

The Border Cats went after Stinger reliever Garrett Anderson. A defensive error by the Stingers did not help things. Anderson got into a self created jam with a walk and a hit batsman, then Rolland made him pay with a two RBI single to count Robson and Jordan Serena (Columbia University). Studer would follow with a single and an error by the Stinger Leftfielder allowed Rolland to score.

Into the top of the seventh and the Stingers would respond. Trailing 3-1, Moyer would hit his first dinger off of Nathan Aultman (Northwestern State), the only run earned in the inning. Aultman allowed two more singles before being chased with one out. But Border Cat errors and good base running would all add up to the Stingers taking a 4-3 lead including a run scoring on a balk by Devin McLemore (Winston Salem State).

That inning would be erased in the bottom half as Border Cat Designated Hitter Rolland drove in Ty Blankmeyer (St. John's University) with an RBI single to left. A balk also played a factor in that run as Blankmeyer was awarded second with Garrett Anderson committing the infraction.

The game winning run for the Stingers came in a bases loaded situation in the 11th. Border Cat Long Reliever Allison allowed a pair of hits and walked one with one out before Stinger Jack Ross grounded one to Studer at first where the defender tagged first then came home with a throw in time to get Beesley, but he just touched the plate before the Christian Correa (Nicholls State) could apply the tag.

In the home half, the Cats Adam Collins (Central Michigan) represented the tying run after the lead off single, but was left stranded at third as Robson could not extend the game grounding out to second to end proceedings.

These two teams play a rematch on Saturday night at TBaytel Park with the first pitch set to be tossed at 6:05pm. Lefty Wesley Helsabeck (Winston Salem State) looks for his first win (0-2 4.15) as he takes the mound for the Cats. The Stingers will counter with lefty Andrew Towns (2-0, 2.76).

BORDER NEWS: The Border Cats announce the end of the season for hometowner Lucas Scocchia (Oakland University). Scocchia was a reliable reliever with solid stuff, going 3-0 with a save making nine appearances out of the bullpen for the Cats. He recorded a 4.02 ERA and six strikeouts in 15.2 innings pitched. He was with the Cats on a temporary contract and reached an Innings Limit.

Also the Cats announced the signing of a trio of players. Pitchers Austin Griffie and Zach Morganstern signed along with outfielder Jacob Robson. Griffie comes to the Border Cats from Harford Community College in Maryland. The Freshman Fighting Owl made eleven starts with a 3-3 record and 5.21 ERA in his first season. Morgenstern who played for the Kenosha Kingfish earlier this summer but was released due to being on a temporary contract looks to continue what he did this spring. The Augustana College Viking was 5-1 in 14 appearances with a 2.01 ERA and four saves, while throwing two complete games in three starts and striking out 25. Robson, who made his debut tonight, hails from Windsor, Ontario. He is a freshman at Mississippi State where he plays alongside current Cat Kyle Hann. He did not see much playing time in the spring, but adds speed, a good bat and needed outfield depth.