By Lance Jones
The end of the Thunder Bay Border Cats road trip was not pretty. The Duluth Huskies scored 11 runs between the second and the sixth innings to thump the Border Cats 11-4 at Wade Stadium on Friday night. Duluth, have won seven in a row, taking full advantage of the season restart. They now lead the Great Plains East division at 10-4. Thunder Bay has been mired in quicksand to start the second half at just 2-12. They are looking to a brief respite at home to try and get back on the right track.
With the bases loaded for the Huskies in the second inning, Collin Hopkins (Western Kentucky) came through with a single that meant some station to station baseball scoring Max Guzman (Faulkner University). A balk call against Border Cat Starting Pitcher Jordan Jackson (Nevada-Reno) brought home Preston Hartsell (USC). Jackson was making a spot start. Max Gamm (Nebraska-Omaha) would bring home two more on his second double of the season. Jackson took the loss dropping to 1-2.
Jackson is not alone in the difficulties the pitching staff has seen against the Highway 61 foes. The Huskies, for whatever reason, have their bats come alive against Thunder Bay specifically. Consider this, as a team the Huskies are hitting .255 in 50 games. Against the Border Cats, the Duluth offense is hitting .334 which means they are hitting a measly .237 against the rest of the teams they’ve faced. Also the Huskies have scored about ¼ of their runs against Thunder Bay, 72 of 283. They have all of 83 doubles this season and 26 or about 30% against Border Cats Pitching. Finally, the Huskies next team they’ve hit well is the La Crosse Loggers in terms of batting average, they are hitting just .268 against them. Whatever approach Duluth hitters take to the plate seems to work against Thunder Bay pitching.
Thunder Bay would mount a response in the top of the third. An error from the Duluth Catcher allowed Karsten Vasquez (College of San Mateo-CA) to count. Then Conor Allard (Nevada-Reno) knocked in Anthony Galati (Sacramento City College) to make it 4-2.
Duluth would repost a four run lead by scoring two in the home half of the third as Danny Zimmerman (Michigan) parked his fifth home run of the season.
Nate Soriano had himself a big game in the loss. The Houston Baptist product was three-for-four for the second time in three games. He picked up his 16th run batted in in the fourth as he brought in Jakob Newton (Florida Tech) from second base. And 6-3 was as close as the Cats came in the game.
A Kyle Jacobsen (Hillborough CC) double and Alex Tappen (Virginia) single would make it 8-3 and Duluth would roll on to victory.
Ricky Reynoso (University of the Pacific) remained a perfect 3-0 against Thunder Bay. The Husky Starter allowed three runs, two earned on five hits and three walks with three strikeouts. With the win, Reynoso’s record is now at 4-1 on the season.
Thunder Bay comes home to face another team that is giving them fits. The Eau Claire Express are one game behind the Huskies for the division lead and are in town for the start of a four game series, the last meetings between the Great Plains East rivals this season. The Express have won seven of eight games against Thunder Bay, including an entertaining classic the last time these two teams met at Port Arthur Stadium. In that game the Cats rallied twice from down three runs, including a dramatic ninth inning bid to push into extra innings. However the Express would score three to the Cats one in the tenth to end it, and one big throw to get what could have been a tying run for the Cats in the tenth deflated the rally. First pitch is slated for 6:05pm. It is Steak Saturday at the stadium, Steak, Spud and A Sud for $35. It is also Paul Shaffer Bobblehead Giveaway with the first 500 fans receiving one courtesy of the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium.