Bucks One Step Closer

By Lance Jones

The scales tipped in the Waterloo Bucks favour on Monday afternoon. A four run inning in the seventh followed by a three run eighth gave the Bucks a 9-7 win over the Thunder Bay Border Cats on Canada Day at Port Arthur Stadium. With the Border Cats already eliminated from the first half Great Plains East subdivision contention their chance to make an impact is to wreak havoc on the Bucks chances. However, Waterloo took on giant step forward.

The Bucks now hope the Mankato MoonDogs eliminate the last hurdle in their way the Eau Claire Express tonight by defeating the Express, otherwise tomorrow’s game will mean plenty.

The Border Cats got working early on Bucks starter Adam Ketelsen (Iowa). Jakob Newton (Florida Tech) led off with a single. An error allowed two aboard. Jake Engel (Dixie State) walked. Conor Allard (Nevada-Reno) came through with a bases loaded single to score Newton. Andrew Shebloski’s (Saint Mary’s College CA) ground out almost ended the inning, but the relay throw was dropped allowing Ryne Edmondson (Houston Baptist) to score and spotted the Cats a 2-0 lead.

With the two runs in his pocket, Border Cats Starter Tyler Hansen (GateWay CC) would give them back over the next two innings. A leadoff double by Blake Berry (San Jose State) in the alley in right centre gave the Bucks a lead off runner. Back-to-back strikeouts from Hansen gave him a chance to get out of it. However R.J. Teijeiro’s (UCLA) single to left was enough to plate Berry. Waterloo almost took the lead as Blake Wagenseller (Cal Poly) spanked a deep fly ball to left, which was ruled a home run. However, Cats Rightfielder Shebloski and protest from the bullpen caused Umpire Trevor Patience to see what the hullaballoo was about. It turns out the ball ended up in between the fence and the Harbourview Optometry sign in right field and went for a ground rule double upon closer inspection. Hansen was able to get out with the lead on a follow up ground out.

Leadoff hitter Patrick Ferguson (Kent State) would mash a baseball that’s orbiting Mars right now to tie the game in the third for Waterloo.

And Hansen and his Bucks counterpart Adam Ketelsen (Iowa) would settle into a bit of a groove until the fifth.

Small ball pulled to a tee would give the Cats another lead. A leadoff walk issued to the Border Cats Nate Soriano (Houston Baptist) would put him aboard. Newton sacrificed to move Soriano down. And Thomas Grilli (Panola College) smoked a single to left to score Soriano. Ketelsen would finish the inning but that was all for him. He allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and four strikeouts as well as three walks in five innings of work taking a no decision.

Hansen would be cruising a bit further until the seventh. A tight pitch called for ball four walked Teijeiro to lead of the frame. Wagenseller who had three hits in the game jacked a single to right that Shebloski had trouble with. It would score Teijeiro to tie the game and take Ketelsen off the hook for the loss. Another single by Ferguson would chase Hansen and give the Bucks the ultimate lead. Ferguson would get caught up in a rundown and Engel hit him with a baseball trying to get it back to second causing another error and advancing Bryce Woolridge (Cal State-Fullerton) home. Alonzo Rubalcaba (Santa Barbara City College) grounded into a double play that scored Ferguson and with four runs on four hits and two errors the Bucks were up 6-3.

Cats Reliever Trent Valentine (Iona College NY) would have a rough eighth. Challenging hitters as best he could he was touched up for back-to-back singles in the inning. A double steal kept a routine double play out of order. Wagenseller would be the difference as he just got enough of a 3-1 offering to clock his first home run of the year to push the Bucks lead to 9-3.

The never say die Cats though put a complete scare into the Bucks late. Jimmy Smiley (Columbia) who had come on for Ketelsen was walking through three innings until the ninth. Bryce Jorgenson (Minnesota-Crookston) cranked his first triple of the season on a solid swing. Soriano scored him on an infield single. Newton would come through with a seeing-eye ground ball that slithered away from Bucks Shortstop Bennett Hostetler (North Dakota State). Soriano would take third after the ball got away. Grilli got aboard on an error which plated Soriano and gave him his second run batted in of the day. Edmondson would continue the rally with a bloop single that seen Jakob “Afterburner” Newton score from second. And Engel’s fielder’s choice kept the “Don’t Stop Believin’” mindset going as the Cats’ tying run came to the plate. With heart rates elevated in the Bucks dugout Manager Casey Harms put an end to the ninth inning festivities by calling on Dylan Phillips (Kansas State) who got the one hitter he faced for his first save and to secure the victory.

Hansen took a tough loss striking out five over six innings to drop to 0-3. He would allow eight hits and six runs in the outing. Smiley took the win in relief working 3 2/3 allowing four runs, three earned on five hits and a walk. He struck out two of the 18 hitters he faced.

Game four of this exciting series will wrap on Tuesday, the last day of the Northwoods League First Half. Whether the Bucks are in the playoffs we will not know until later tonight. It is Toonie Tuesday at Port Arthur Stadium with $2 Kid’s Tickets, $2 Pizza Slices and $2 Pop so bring along the kids and bring in those two dollar pieces and meet us at 7:05pm for first pitch.

EXTRA INNINGS: The Annual Canada Day Jersey Auction in support of Special Olympics managed to fetch $2300 presented by Vince Mirabelli Re/Max First Choice Realty. Congratulations also to Austin Breazeale who earned Northwoods League Pitcher of the Night for his 8 1/3 pitched on Sunday night. He carried a perfect game into the seventh inning and allowed one run striking out seven.