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Border Cats’ Magic Acts Pull Out a Win

By Lance Jones

The Thunder Bay Border Cats pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the hat of a comeback win on the division leading Waterloo Bucks 4-3 in ten innings on Saturday night. A comeback that seen the Cats make a Houdini like escape from a loss into the win column was filled with intrigue and magic throughout.

Border Cats Starting Pitcher Mark Anderson (Lafayette College PA) pulled an illusion in the first inning. Bucks leadoff hitter Patrick Ferguson (Kent State) edged a single to right. Bennett Hostetler (North Dakota State) doubled down the line just past the hot corner to put runners on second and third to provide the Bucks with a golden opportunity to get a lead. Anderson threw two strikeouts and a pop out to indeed turn into the potential runs into a mirage.

But the Bucks threw some defensive magic of their own in the first. Karsten Vasquez (Sacramento City College) hit a high copper off of Bucks Starter Drew Irvine (Iowa). He was figured out by Third Baseman Bryce Woolridge (Cal State-Fullerton) who barehanded a beauty to first to get him by a step. Nick Seamons (Nevada-Reno) stepped up with a solid single and tried to stretch it into a double only to be thrown out on a clean arrow shot from Leftfielder Mike Nyisztor (Rutgers).

Anderson could not fool the Bucks in the third. A two-out rally and three straight singles from Hostetler, Alonzo Rubalcaba (Santa Barbara City College) and Blake Berry (San Jose State) put a run up on the board. In amidst the rally Border Cats Shortstop Nate Soriano (Houston Baptist) almost threw out Rubalcaba off his back foot but a tie went to the runner.

Irvine was throwing smokescreens and darts on the mound. Other than allowing a triple to Soriano in the third and spreading a few singles, Irvine managed all of his six strikeouts on the night in his first four innings of work and seen very little resistance put up threw five.

In the fifth the Bucks would provide some run support for Irvine. Courtesy of an error on a tough play with one out Waterloo would set to work. Hostetler with his third hit, a carbon copy double of his first one seen runners on second and third. Rubalcaba, he of a three hit night would square around another infield single that was a doppelganger of his one in the third to extend the lead to 2-0. Berry would come through with his second run batted in on a sac fly to make it 3-0.

Anderson would pitch one more frame, however he would leave on the hook for the loss with four strikeouts and three runs allowed, just one earned. He would get a little help from his friends to escape the loss.

Soriano arrived on the scene in the sixth with a leadoff single, the first leadoff runner to reach in the game for the home team. An error ended up costing Irvine as it allowed Seamons aboard. Jake Engel (Dixie State) would put a single through the middle to score Soriano. A second error on the same play would allow Seamons to count to cut the deficit to 3-2.

In the next frame, Andrew Shebloski (Saint Mary’s College CA) would get in on the magic act by making the ball disappear over the wall in left for the game tying Home Run. It was his first of the season. Irvine would finish the seventh with three ground outs but take a no decision finishing with three runs allowed and one earned with four strikeouts.

Lucas Reid (Sacramento City College) kept the magic alive and the Bucks bats silent as he turned in a three inning two hit, two strikeout performance. That was matched by Jimmy Smiley (Columbia) and Dylan Phillips (Kansas State) in the eighth and ninth to send the game to extras.

The Bucks started with Hostetler on second. A long fly ball that through the wizardry of pure flight Seamons was able to get to as it tailed away from him in the right-centre gap allowed Hostetler to take third. Or so it seemed. A defense check at second base seen the umpires make Hostetler disappear as it was ruled he did not tag up on the fly ball much to the obvious disagreement of the Bucks. Waterloo would not be able to recover as Ryan Windham (Creighton University NE) allowed a single and a fly out to allow the Cats a chance to win it.

Bryce Jorgenson (Minnesota-Crookston) came in to pinch run at second. Bucks Reliever Jack Dolak (San Diego) unleashed a wild pitch. And for the Cats last trick, Thomas Grilli (Panola College) singled home the winning run with the defense pulled in much to the delight of the home crowd at Port Arthur Stadium as the comeback was complete.

Windham took the win going to 2-0. Dolak the loss, dropping to 0-1.

Game two of the four game series is set for a rare Sunday night game. First pitch is slated for 7:35pm at Port Arthur Stadium. It is Post Game Pre-Canada Day Fireworks night. Austin Breazeale (GateWay CC) (1-1 4.73 ERA) will make his first start since picking up a win against the Bucks back on June 14th. Jack Parkinson (Rutgers) (1-2 6.23) will also make his first start since taking the loss in that game.