Slumping Cats Drop Fifth in A Row
By Lance Jones
Houston! The Thunder Bay Border Cats offense is in trouble! While pitching has been running at a steady clip, near their season average, another rough day at the plate seen the Cats drop their fifth game in a row 4-3 to the La Crosse Loggers on Friday night. It was the first game of a four game road trip. The Cats had all of five hits and three walks in the loss. Their average is just .176 over the last five games. In it, Jakob Newton (Florida Tech) (hitting .357) has been the only hitter above .300 while the rest of the squad is at .250 or below. The Cats also have not had more than five hits in the losing streak, not counting the game that started it all, a 9-7 loss to Waterloo. In that game though, four of the teams nine hits came in a ninth inning rally, and without those four hits, the team had five in the other eight innings.
The positive is that the Cats have only lost these five games by ten runs, which is an average of two runs a night. In fact a two run swing would have meant extra innings in two games and wins in two others. That’s a sign that things can turn around, and they will have to in a hurry as the loss has dropped the Cats second half record to 0-3.
A controversial error in the first inning aided the Cats offense. Jake Engel (Dixie State) got aboard on a play in which the Loggers were charged with an error on the Third Baseman Tony Bullard (Arizona). He threw one that the first base umpire ruled pulled the first baseman ever so slightly off the bag. Loggers Manager Brian Lewis launched an appeal to the Umpire’s Court, only to be denied. Engel would swipe second and Anthony Galati (Sacramento City College) walked. Loggers Starting Pitcher Matt Kennedy (St. Joseph’s), making his third start against the Border Cats this season was then in a jam. The Cats capitalized as Conor Allard (Nevada-Reno) singled home Engel. Nate Soriano (Houston Baptist) flew one to right field that allowed Galati to score as Ryan Holgate’s (Arizona) throw was just late.
This gave Border Cats Starter Joe Moran (Anderson University) enough to work with. Moran had a tough start as he had to fight off five walks over the course of the night. He got a double play to get him out of a walk in the second. However a single, walk and error in that order loaded the bases in the third. Another walk to Ryan Holgate forced home a run. A second double play though, of the unusual third-home-first variety kept the lead intact.
Joe Jimenez (Chapman University) would catch Trey Harris (Arkansas) trying to swipe a bag in the fourth and then a third double play of the game solved another walk by Moran. Moran would take a no decision striking out two and allowing six hits, but leaving the game with a lead.
Kennedy’s batsmen would get him the advantage in the home half of the seventh. DJ DePiero (Bradley) (0-4), fresh out of the bullpen was tagged for the loss immediately. Cody Jefferis (San Diego) grounded down the chalk line to left to start the frame. JT Schwartz’s (UCLA) singled back up the chute tied the game. DePiero’s next pitch was launched just fair down the right field line for his eighth home run of the season to give the Loggers a 4-2 lead. DePiero would allow one walk of the rest of the seven hitters he faced.
Thunder Bay would put together a rally in the eighth. Kennedy surrendered singles to Engel and Galati to see runners on first and third. Samuel Torsey (Viterbo) would come in to spell Kennedy. Allard put a line drive off the glove of Kyson Donahue (Arizona), the Loggers Shortstop, and he was charged with an error. With Soriano at the plate a squeeze play saw Galati take off from third before the bunt was laid down and get caught in a run down. With Allard scampering to second the Cats could not find the tying run.
Thunder Bay would put another runner into scoring position after a Jimenez single and a Thomas Grilli (Panola College) sacrifice bunt. But Newton nor Nick Seamons (Palomar College) could cash him in against Jack Filby (UCLA) who earned his first save.
Altogether Kennedy picked up the win on three unearned runs. He whiffed eight hitters, walked two and allowed four hits to push his record to 3-0.
Mark Anderson (Lafayette College) (2-0 2.07 ERA) will do his best to snap this skid on the mound for the Border Cats. He beat the Loggers in his first win of the season back on June 13th. Jon Meyerring (1-0 6.03) took his only win of the season against Thunder Bay on June 12th and he will be toeing the rubber for the hometown Loggers.