By Lance Jones
Make it three wins in a row as the Thunder Border Cats (3-7) and Rochester Honkers (5-5) played a thrilling edger of your seat back and forth ball game on School Day. Both teams had one run leads evaporate throughout but Thunder Bay came out victorious 4-3 in front of a crowd of 1,170. With the win, the Cats won the four game series over Rochester taking three of four and have evened up the season series 3-3.
Jordan Larson (Northern Illinois) led the way offensively for Thunder Bay going 2-for-4 in the cleanup spot.
Evan Berkey (Cal State-Bakersfield) responded with a 3-for-5 day for the Honkers picking up his second RBI batting leadoff.
The Border Cats were knocked down in the first inning by Honkers starter Daniel Silva (UC-Colorado Springs). Silva would strike out the side on 15 pitches in the frame.
The second inning was not so kind to Silva. An error by Berkey allowed Larson aboard and Alexander “Papi” Hernandez (Nova Southeastern) would double to left to put both runners in scoring position. Thomas Grilli (Panola) would come through with an RBI poke into left to push Larson across giving the Cats a 1-0 lead.
A couple hits in the fourth had the Honkers in business. Aaron Simmons’ (UW-Stevens Point) groundout would count Berkey from third to tie the game.
Border Cats starter Joe Moran (Anderson U.) was effective in his second start of the season. However, his defense didn’t help him in the fifth. Back to back errors allowed Seth Nelson (Golden West CC) and Tim Borden (Louisville) on. A sacrifice moved them into scoring position. With the defense in, Moran was tested with a quick shot baseball back to the mound off the bat of Henry George (Minnesota-Duluth) and Moran made a good play to get him. Berkey though would pick up his run batted in on a single to left on a good piece of hitting on 0-2. The Honkers would lead 2-1.
That lead didn’t last long though. The Cats came through for Moran as Andrew Shebloski (Saint Mary’s), making his Border Cats debut, doubled into left scoring Hernandez. With Jakob Newton (Florida Tech) getting on base and Shebloski at third, an errant throw from the Honkers catcher trying to catch Newton stealing second allowed Shebloski to take home easily and give the Cats a 3-2 lead.
Honkers Starter Silva would end the day allowing three runs, two earned on four hits and five K’s in five innings of work. Silva (0-2) would be charged with his second loss of the year despite a good outing.
Border Cat starter Moran (1-0) matched Silva to pick up his first win. Moran would deal four strike outs, allowing just two runs (one earned) on four hits.
Thunder Bay would extend the lead to 4-2 in the sixth. Tyson Fisher (Dixie State) and Larson would greet Honker reliever Mitchell Allen (New Mexico State) with back to back singles. That teed up Anthony Galati (Sacramento City) to drive in a run on a fly ball to left which scored Fisher.
Honkers Left Fielder Tristan Peterson (New Mexico State) struck back for Rocheter in the next inning. An RBI double off of Border Cat lefty Peyton Burks (Arkansas-Pine Bluff) scored Berkey and looked to start a Honker comeback bid. Burks would walk Jack Thelan (UW-Milwaukee) to put two on and a sacrifice bunt out of Simmons moved both runners into scoring position with one out. Manager Eric Vasquez then put the ball in the hands of Aaron Kern (Minot State) who would get a ground out that kept the runners stationary for the second out. Kern would let Nelson aboard on a close 3-2 pitch that walked him before getting pinch hitter Brennan Schmitt (UW-La Crosse) to fly out to Houdini himself and Burks out of the inning.
Burks and Kern did some strong work out of the bullpen. Burks’ two and a third innings of work came with a double play from the defense and two strikeouts. Kern would earn his first save for his work in one and two thirds as they teamed up to snuff out any comeback.
The Border Cats look to carry the momentum to Minnesota for the start of a four game road trip. They head out to Mankato for two then will roll into Wisconsin to meet the Eau Claire Express before the next home game on Tuesday.