Ty Blankmeyer tags Hermann 071014

Border Cat Shortstop Ty Blankmeyer (St. John's University) applies the tag to would be base stealer Tyler Hermann. Christian Correa would catch a pair of Express on the basepathes. Thunder Bay came up short though losing 8-5 in 11 innings. (Photo Courtesy of James Mirabelli Photography).  

In the top of the 11th Jeff Hendrix hammered a three run shot to give the visiting Eau Claire Express (23-19, 7-2) an 8-5 victory over the Thunder Bay Border Cats (15-28, 1-7) in action at TBaytel Park. The red hot Express won their 6th in a row while the Border Cats are going in the opposite direction having dropped seven straight. 

Hendrix had a monster night for the Express going 3-5 with a two-RBI double to go along with being the home run hero. Everyone in the Express order reached base via at least a walk or hit on the night. Catcher Brent Gibbs and second year Eau Claire Left Fielder Brady Burzynski drove in the other runs for the Express. Tyler Hermann was putting in a shift as well at third base, making a few barehanded play look cool as you like. 

The Border Cats offense cooked up many opportunities on home soil. Adam Collins (Central Michigan) was 2-5 with a double and three driven in. Columbia University teammates Robb Paller and Jordan Serena also had fantastic nights. Paller was 3-5 with a pair of doubles and his 23rd RBI of the season. Serena, who has been the starting Centerfielder and is playing infield due to injuries was 2-4 with a run scored, a walk and was throwing down a defensive skills clinic at second base. Serena committed grand theft baseball and enthralled the fans with his play. Christian Correa (Nicholls State) meanwhile was having no base thieves as his strong throwing negated a couple of Express runners.

The pitching was also stellar. Thunder Bay starter and 22nd round Philadelphia Phillies draft pick Ryan Powers (Miami-Ohio) brought the Stuff to the mound. Powers mixed it up and struck out nine hitters of 24 faced in six strong, allowing four hits and four runs with a no decision. His four walks though cost him as three came in to score. Ben Allison (Belhaven University) and Michael Daley (Kean University) combined to pitch the 7th, 8th and 9th, hanging zeros on the board. Austin Griffie (Harford CC) took the loss (0-1), and also pitched well despite allowing three hits and four runs with two walks while striking out a pair.

The Express bullpen was masterful. Taylor Duree allowed a solo home run through three innings of work, whiffing three and bumping his record to 3-1. Aron McRee, his bullpen mate went three innings as well, allowing one hit and walking a pair, striking out one. Peter Hendron, making his debut start for Eau Claire went five innings giving up four runs, three earned on eight hits.

It was a tight contest with Eau Claire leading into the bottom of the 4th. That lead vanished when Thunder Bay Third baseman Collins, doubled to right centre scoring Nick Studer (Doane College) and Cory Kay (Missouri State). The Express would draw level on a Powers wild pitch in the 6th.

After that it was bullpen time! Both bullpens planted bagels on the board till the 11th. Thunder Bay left six on in the ball game, all in scoring position and it would cost them. The Express capitalized as Gibbs singled home Hermann. Then Hendrix sealed it on the home run as he put one into the dog park past right centre.

Tyler Rolland's (Southern Illinois) first home run in the bottom half was a consolation run as the Cats could not muster a final rally.

The Express and Border Cats do battle again on Friday night at TBaytel Park starting at 7:05pm EDT. It has been a tight season series, with Eau Claire edging it 3-2 and three meetings left. Lefthander Wesley Helsabeck (Winston Salem State) who has had two fantastic starts (0-2, 4.03) since moving to the rotation will take the ball for Thunder Bay. The Express will counter with lefty Jeremy Bagnall who is enjoying a great summer on the mound, making his 7th start (3-2, 2.80).

BORDER NEWS: Thunder Bay native Carter McEachern (Trinity University) has been shut down for the rest of the season. McEachern who was in his second summer with the Cats opened the summer hitting .444 playing Third Base and Shortstop. He was injured after getting hit by a pitch earlier in early June. 2nd Year Border Cat Kyle Hann is closer to returning. The sure handed Shortstop was also injured in June and it is possible he may return in the next two weeks.