Nate Davis Throws Gem to Shutout Cats

By Lance Jones

Eau Claire Express Starter Nate Davis (Triton) threw eight innings of shutout baseball en route to a 5-0 win over the Thunder Bay Border Cats in the first game of a two game set. Eau Claire scored in each of the first three innings to give Davis all the run support he needed. The Border Cats will need their first win over Eau Claire on Wednesday in order to win their road trip. They went 3-1 over Waterloo in the first four games after leaving Thunder Bay.

Border Cats Starter DJ DePiero (Bradley) struggled in his spot start. In the first inning he hit Troy Beilsmith (Evansville) the leadoff hitter then walked Spencer Myers (Notre Dame) and Matt Bottcher (Illinois-Chicago) to load up the bases. Back to back free passes to Phillip Sikes (Pima CC) and Brandon Dieter (Stanford) gave the Express a head start. DePiero then struck out the next hitter and got a double play to keep the deficit to two.

In the second, Myers would come through on a single to score Connor Laspina (Flagler) from second base and that would signal the end of the line for DePiero. DePiero (0-3) would be charged with the loss as the Border Cats offense could not bail him out of the rough outing.

Sikes rudely greeted Reliever Peyton Burks (Arkansas-Pine Bluff) with leadoff double to start the third. Dieter walked. Vincent Martinez (StanforD) would notch his first double of the season to score Sikes. Laspina would bring Dieter home on a sac fly to left to round out the scoring.

And that was all the scoring Davis would need. He would throw three straight, three up three down frames, the second, third and fourth, including one double play.

In the sixth the Cats had a good opportunity. The only thorn in Davis’ side was Joe Jimenez (Chapman U.). Jimenez who went 2-for-2 with a walk would get his base on balls to start the inning. Andrew Shebloski (Saint Mary’s CA) singled to left-centre. However the Cats could not capitalize after a strikeout and fly out.

The next inning also had a good start. Ryne Edmondson (Houston Baptist) picked up his only hit of the game and Jordan Larson (Northern Illinois) followed him aboard on a four pitch walk. A fly out and double play later and the bank account was still empty for Thunder Bay.

Border Cat Catcher Jimenez could do wrong against Davis. He fought his way aboard to start the eighth. Fouling off three Davis pitches in a row Jimenez came through with his second hit. However, yet a third double play and fly out later thought and Thunder Bay’s offense was bounced from the inning and the game.

Davis (1-1) would pick up the win finishing with five strikeouts, spraying four hits and four walks in the outing, facing the lineup just over three times. Noah Denoyer (San Joaquin Delta) threw a shut out ninth with one punch out.

Joey Hecht (Daytona St.) was efficient and effective out of the bullpen for Thunder Bay. He threw to just two over the minimum over four innings of work. He picked up one strikeout and allowed three hits. Brendan Cindric (Pepperdine) walked a pair in the eighth but left without any damage. Hecht and Cindric gave the Cats offense a chance to get started but it was not to be their night.

The Border Cats will search for their first win of the season over the Express on Wednesday night. Eau Claire have won all three matchups at Carson Park so far this season. Alex Dafoe (Friends U.) (1-1 3.11 ERA) is getting the ball for the Cats while Matt Verdun (Lewis C.) (0-0 2.57) takes the bump for Eau Claire. This is a rematch of the June 10th pitching matchup, in which both pitchers ended without a decision to their name. The Express took the win that night in the tenth inning 5-4. It is the last game of this six game journey as the Cats are returning home on Thursday.