Austin Breazeale Flirts With Perfection
By Lance Jones
Austin Breazeale (GateWay CC) threw a perfect game through 6 1/3 and was two outs away from a complete game shutout as the Thunder Bay Border Cats took an 8-1 win over the Waterloo Bucks on Sunday night. Post-game fireworks were preceded by a few firecrackers in the game as the Cats took game two of a four game series. The series is one which sees the Bucks still playing for a playoff ticket. The Bucks and Eau Claire Express are the only two teams which can clinch a playoff title in the Great Plains East Division.
Breazeale (2-1) was the story however as he threw a gem for his second win of the season. A one man playoff spot spoiler threw 8 1/3 with seven strikeouts spread three hits out and allowed one run.
The Cats would spot Breazeale a run in the first inning. Bucks Starting Pitcher Jack Parkinson (Rutgers) walked Nick Seamons (Palomar College) who would swipe second. After two quick outs, Parkinson was one strike from getting out of the inning. Jake Engel (Dixie State) however pasted a pitch into the right-centre alley allowing him to pick up his first triple and first of two runs batted in.
Bucks cleanup hitter Blake Berry (San Jose State) tried some trick bag business in the second by bunting one down. Breazeale threw a clean strike to first though to foil Berry.
The Cats would load the bases in the third but could not cash in as Parkinson got a lineout and fly out to end the threat.
Parkinson would do another wondrous job of getting out of an issue in the fourth. After an error and a single put two on and none out a defensive miscue would allow Jordan Larson (Northern Illinois) to steal third base without a throw. However, Parkinson would get a strikeout and a double play to keep it to 1-0.
Breazeale was getting good defense behind him and then stepped up when called upon himself. R.J. Teijeiro snapped a bullet back at the mound but Breazeale stoned him with a little glove larceny.
Bennett Hostetler (North Dakota State) had an rough night to say the least. First the good news for Hostetler as his double with one out in the seventh broke up the perfect game. Breazeale would buckle down though and strand him at third to end the inning.
Brett Lockwood (Kansas State) would enter the game for Parkinson in the seventh. Nate Soriano (Houston Baptist) hit a one out single. Bucks Shortstop Hostetler who had committed all of four errors the whole season entering play, would commit three in one inning. The first came on a routine ground ball to allow Seamons aboard. Thomas Grilli (Panola College) singled to left to score Soriano. On the play Grilli and Seamons would get to second and third on the throw attempt at home. This would draw the defense in, trying to prevent anyone else from scoring. Ryne Edmondson (Houston Baptist) would ground one up the middle at Hostetler, and the Bucks shortstop would fire home. His throw was offline and drew Teijeiro playing Catcher away from the plate. In order to field it he would go diving off to the left of the plate but as he did it appeared he tagged Seamons. However, Seamons was called safe as it appeared Teijeiro interfered with the runner’s path to home. The ruling irritated the Bucks and then a complete unexplained meltdown occurred. Another error by Hostetler on a tough Engel grounder allowed Grilli to count. Andrew Shebloski (Saint Mary’s) would hit a ground ball to Hostetler, which was going to be difficult for him to do anything with. Edmondson was scoring no matter what but another error from Hostetler as he airmailed his first baseman allowed Engel to count. Larson singled up the middle moving Shebloski to third. Alexander Hernandez (Nova Southeastern) with his third hit of the game double to right-centre plated Shebloski and Pinch Runner Jakob Newton (Florida Tech). Five hits and four errors from the Bucks contributed to a monster seven run inning to give Breazeale all the run support he’d need.
Waterloo would spark a run up in the ninth. Patrick Ferguson’s (Kent State) single chased Breazeale from the game. Back-to-back singles and a bases loaded walk by Aaron Kern (Minot State) allowed Ferguson to count. Kern would get a fly out and then an amazing catch by Engel who went diving over a fence with his glove over the railing like he was dipping a strawberry into a fondue pot got the final out of the game.
Game three of the four game series is an afternoon affair as the Border Cats still look to play spoiler. With the Bucks still in the driver’s seat and looking for the first half division title, the Cats are looking to make sure it will not be easy. The game’s first pitch is set for 1:35pm. It is the Canada Day Jersey Auction game in support of the Special Olympics and it is also All-You-Can-Eat Monday.