Loggers Survive Slugfest With Cats

By Lance Jones

Each team blew three leads and could not score in the first two extra innings and the La Crosse Loggers finally walked off the Thunder Bay Border Cats in the 12th inning 9-8. Thunder Bay’s offense came alive for 11 hits, however the Cats pitching staff allowed 17. The Border Cats are hoping this isn’t the leaking boat situation, where you plug one hole only for another leak to start. Whatever it is, the Cats need to get back on the win horse. A sixth straight loss has dropped Thunder Bay to 0-4 in the second half and 14-25 overall. La Crosse is now tied for the division lead at 3-1 and evened up their record at 20-20.

Thunder Bay opened the scoring in their first at bat. Jake Engel (Dixie State) hit a slow roller off of Jon Meyerring (Miami-Ohio) that shortstop Cody Jefferis (San Diego) made a decent throw on but Engel’s speed and the slight off balance catch of Hunter Watson (Texas A&M) gave the Cats a runner. Anthony Galati (Sacramento City College) singled to centre to put runners on the corners. The Cats would use the old school yard double steal as Galati would get caught taking second but Engel’s speed motored him home for the lead.

Cats Starter Mark Anderson (Lafayette College-PA) surrendered that lead in the second. JT Schwartz (UCLA) singled with one out. Anderson’s pick off move went high and off of Engel’s glove at first allowing Schwartz to take second. A ground out moved Schwartz another base along. Watson would tie it on a run scoring single to centre.

In the next inning, Meyerring would start a two-out rally in a dangerous way. A pitch got away from him as he hit Galati with a fastball to the back of the head. Galati would remain in the game and then swipe second base. Ryne Edmondson (Houston Baptist) came through with a slow rolling single to centre to retake the lead.

La Crosse would get cracking going after Anderson in the fourth. Three singles of the bats of Schwartz, Trey Harris (Arkansas) and Bo Xi Hsiao (Washington) loaded the bases full of lumbermen. Trey Torain (George Washington) skied a ball into shallow right. An infield fly rule was called but the ball went through Thomas Grilli (Panola College) allowing Schwartz to count. A fielder’s choice would allow a run to count on the third out of the inning to give the Loggers a 3-2 lead.

Anderson’s night would be over after the fifth. The Border Cats lefty allowed eight hits and three runs (two earned) with two walks and six strikeouts in his no decision.

Meyerring was chased in the sixth after the first three batters he faced. Conor Allard (Nevada-Reno) and Andrew Shebloski (Saint Mary’s College CA) each nailed one of their two hits to start the inning. Then Meyerring threw a bruise ball at Joe Jimenez in the shoulder to load the bases. Meyerring finished with one punch out, issuing three free passes. He surrendered six hits and four runs, three earned in his no decision. Hanan Mauldin (Birmingham Southern) would do his best to limit the damage. Grilli drove in the tying run on a sac fly to the right field warning track for the first out of the inning. Jakob Newton (Florida Tech) hit a pinch hit high chopper that Mauldin fielded to second for the start of a double play. However, without a throw Newton turned on the afterburners and no relay throw was made allowing Shebloski to score and the Cats retook the lead.

Jefferis singled home the tying run in the sixth. Tony Bullard (Arizona) would put the Loggers up 6-4 on a bases loaded single that counted Jefferis and Hsiao.

Thunder Bay made sure that two run deficit was vanquished and they took one of their own in the seventh. After Galati nailed a bloop shot into centre, a vicious collision between Loggers Centerfielder Harris and Shortstop Jefferis seen both floored and Galati took second. Edmondson hit an opposite field flare shot that scored Galati. Allard would follow that up with a liner to left that rolled into foul ground, off the bullpen mound like a Skeeball and out of play for a ground rule double to score Edmondson. With the game tied at six, a balk moved Allard to third and an error allowed Shebloski aboard with still just one out. Jimenez tagged in with his first hit, a single, to give the Cats the lead again. A second double steal of the game saw Jimenez caught at second and Shebloski score to make it 8-6.

A Loggers friendly bouncing ball tricked second baseman Grilli into an error in the eigth. That permitted Jack Filby aboard. A wild pitch by Brendan Cindric (Pepperdine) moved him to second. Ryan Holgate (Arizona) would hit a hung curveball to the fence in the gap to score Filby. Cats Manager Eric Vasquez would make the move to Peyton Burks (Arkansas-Pine Bluff) on the mound. Schwartz singled to centre and Holgate just beat the throw from Newton in centre on a bang-bang play at home. The run would be charged to Cindric.

And with shut out ninth innings, extras would be necessary. And in free baseball neither team could drive a run until the bottom of the 12th. Jordan Jackson (Nevada-Reno) got rid of the inherited runner throwing him out at third. However back to back singles and an intentional walk loaded the bases with one out. Bullard singled through the left side just out of the reach of Allard to end the marathon.

Jackson took the loss out of the pen to drop to 0-1. Steve Bowley (Shepard) wandered into a win in his Logger debut by pitching a clean 12th.

Thunder Bay is off to Rochester to take on the Honkers for the final two game series between the two teams this season. Rochester won the first three off of the Cats, but Thunder Bay won the next three to level the season series. It will be an afternoon affair from Mayo Field on Sunday with a night cap on Monday.