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Polished Rox Roll Over Cats

By Lance Jones

The St. Cloud Rox scored in each inning between the fourth and the eighth on the way to a 9-3 win over the Thunder Bay Border

Cats on Wednesday night. St. Cloud (18-11) managed its third straight two-game series sweep, while the Border Cats (11-18) sit at the precipice of elimination from a first half Great Plains East title. The Border Cats struggled at the dish collecting just four hits in the loss which is reminiscent of recent issues with the team hitting just .208 in the last ten games.

It was St. Cloud who got the head start in the first inning off of Border Cats Starter Trent Valentine (Iona College). Garett Delano (Brown University) picked up one of his two runs batted in on a single that plated Brady Harlan (Oklahoma) from second base.

Jakob Newton (Florida Tech) would tie it for the Cats in the third on a single that scored Alexander Hernandez (Nova Southeastern).

Valentine would hit a rocky road in the fourth inning. Landon Stephens (Miami-Ohio) and Cam Kline (Minnesota State-Mankato) walked. Zack Elliott (Minnesota) would ground into a fielder’s choice which combined with one of three errors for the Cats defense on the night would score Stephens. It would be the last inning for Valentine (1-1) who would take the loss allowing two earned runs on four walks and four strikeouts.

Stephens would extend the lead with his first long ball of the year scoring Delano to make it 4-1.

The run support was all Rox Starting Pitcher Justin Simanek (Southeastern Louisiana) (1-0) would need for the win. He managed one earned run on three hits while chalking up four punch outs.  

Thunder Bay would find a way back in it down 5-1. Rox Reliever Lucas Gather (Cal-Berkeley) got wild in the seventh. A hit by pitch and walk gave the Cats a chance. St. Cloud would call on Max Rippl (Kent State) to try and stem the tide but he would allow both inherited runners. Jordan Larson (Northern Illinois) cracked a double to draw the Cats within two.

St. Cloud would respond right back in the bottom half. A double steal aided the Rox on a Brett Bonar single that scored Hance Smith (Cal-Berkeley) and Kline. The Rox would tack on two for good measure in the eighth to close the scoring. The Rox have won six in a row.

The Cats will head on down the road to take on the Huskies at Wade Stadium on Thursday night. They will turn to Alex Dafoe (Friends University) (1-1 3.85 ERA) looking for his first win since June 4. Huskies Starter Mason Bryant (Texas) (0-2 5.62 ERA) is looking to bounce back from back to back losses. Duluth has a 2-0 lead over Thunder Bay in the battle for the Superior Cup courtesy of spoiling the Cats opening home series.