Cats Quartet Find Right Pitches in Shutout

By Lance Jones

It was the right harmony on the mound and behind the plate tonight. Given recent difficulties at the plate, two was enough with the music played by the pitchers. Two runs were all the support the superb pitching foursome of Tyler Hansen (GateWay CC), Lucas Reid (Nova Southeastern), Brendan Cindric (Pepperdine) and Aaron Kern (Minot State) needed to get the Thunder Bay Border Cats back into the win column in a 2-0 win over the Rochester Honkers on Monday night. One run in the second held up until the Cats offense provided the “basic” level of insurance of an additional run in the ninth. With the win, Thunder Bay finally breaks their second half goose egg and find themselves with nowhere to go but up from here.

It was the pitchers’ battery mate that sung a sweet tune with the bat for them with the first run. After both Hansen and Rochester Starter Ryan Dorney (Saint Martins) matched three up three down innings in the first, Cats Catcher Papí Hernandez (Nova Southeastern) kept fighting cracking four straight foul balls and then found the smooth melody on one that he parked for his second home run of the season.

Hansen got out of some feedback in the third. After a walk and two singles, Hansen managed a major strikeout and then a ground out to leave Honkers at all stations and retain the lead.

And chances were few and far between after that. Zack Zalesky (Oregon State) doubled after another Hansen walk to throw the pressure on the lefty. And Hansen responded to the call with a couple of big outs on fly balls neither long enough to score a runner.

Hansen (1-3) started the “Wind of Change” the Cats needed as he hit all the right notes on this day. He kept pitching to contact and got five ground outs, eight fly out to go along with three strikeouts on the way to his first win of the year.

Dorney’s been a victim of poor run support in his last two losses. He dropped to 2-5 after allowing just two hits and three walks with the home run and six strikeouts.

Reid found himself on the “Razor’s Edge” in the seventh. Jakob Newton (Florida Tech) got him away from it. Logan Denholm (UC-Davis), aboard on a single, then advanced on a Reid wild pitch. Evan Berkey (Cal State-Bakersfield) and Rochester thought the game was tied before Newton threw a bullseye home to get Denholm for the third out to keep the game at 1-0.

Cindric would strand another tying run in scoring position in the eighth. After Reid struck out one and allowed a single to Andy Armstrong (Oregon State). Hernandez allowed a pass ball that moved Armstrong to second. Then Cindric did his best Bachman-Turner Overdrive impression, he was “Takin’ Care of Business,” punching out back to back Honkers to end the threat.

Jordan Larson (Northern Illinois) singled and Thomas Grilli (Panola College) walked. Nate Soriano (Houston Baptist) came up with a monster base hit to plate Larson and push across a key second run.

Rochester managed a leadoff double in the ninth from Nate Webb (UC-Riverside). “Enter Sandman” Kern who put the game to bed getting the next two hitters on strikeouts and a game ending fly out to end the losing streak. With it Kern picked up his fourth save of the season.

The Border Cats come home looking to become more than one hit wonder in the second half. At the end of play Monday, despite the rough start, Thunder Bay (1-5, 15-26) lays just four games back of the division leading La Crosse Loggers with plenty to play. On Tuesday, the Cats welcome in the Eau Claire Express for the start of a two game set part of a four game home stand that sees the Duluth Huskies drop by later in the week. The Express have railroaded the Cats this season to the tune of three wins on home soil at Carson Park. These two teams will really get to know each other as they play each other eight of the next 12 games. The matchups will be major if the Cats or Express are to make a bid at the playoffs. Tuesday’s first pitch is slated for 7:05pm and it is Toonie Tuesday. $2 Kid’s Tickets, $2 Pizza Slices, $2 Pop, so bring the family in from camp and make some noise at the ballpark. It is also Little League Night #2 with Free admission for all Little League Players with promotional ticket.