Walk Zone Favours Huskies
By Lance Jones
The Duluth Huskies once again proved too much for the Thunder Bay Border Cats on Thursday night as they won 9-7. The Border Cats out hit Duluth 9-6, however a season high 12 walks from the pitching staff gifted the Huskies the win. With the win, Duluth (12-7) continues to keep pace with the Eau Claire Express in the race for the Great Plains East Second Half title. Thunder Bay (4-15) snapped a brief two game winning streak.
Things were all calm through the first 2 1/2 innings before some defensive mistakes and the walks began. Second time through the order proved the charm against Border Cats Starter Peyton Burks (Arkansas-Pine Bluff). Channy Ortiz (Yakupai College), the Huskies leadoff hitter singled into centre. Kyle Jacobsen (Hillsborugh CC) followed with a double to left. Then Alex Tappen (Virginia) hit one to the third baseman, CJ Breen (Niagara University-NY), but Breen became of two minds and bobble hatted the ball allowing Ortiz to score. Jacobsen stole a key third base with Max Guzman (Faulkner University) at the plate. Jacobsen would count on an unleashed wild pitch that simultaneously walked Guzman. Aaron Greenfield’s (Cal State-Dominguez Hills) return to the Duluth lineup would see him score a run batted in on a fielder’s choice. Then another walks, this time of the bases loaded variety scored the fourth run of the inning.
Burks’ night was over, but he would stay out of the loss. He allowed four runs (two earned) on four hits with four walks and a strikeout. Thunder Bay would get him off the hook and get after Duluth Starter Colton Williams (University of Science & Arts Oklahoma) in the fourth.
Conor Allard (Nevada-Reno) earned a free pass as he ended up aboard all five times he came to the plate. Jordan Larson (Northern Illinois), who’s been swinging a fire stick (.360 9/25 over his last seven) shot one past the second baseman to put two aboard. Alexander “Papí” Hernandez (Nova Southeastern-FL) walked to see Cats at every station. Ryne Edmondson (Houston Baptist) went foul, foul, fouling away and then masterfully came through with a great piece of two strike hitting to come through on two-run double to left. Breen corrected the earlier error with a bounce back RBI-single, his first hit as a Border Cat. Nathan Soriano (Houston Baptist) would level it right back up with a chopper than bounced over the first baseman and bounced Duluth’s Pitcher Williams from the game. He would exceed the 35-pitch limit for the inning and not be allowed to continue in the fifth.
With that Williams would finish with no decision as it would become bullpen’s-R-Us the rest of the way with both starters knocked out early. Williams allowed four runs on six hits, two walks and two punch outs.
Brendan Cindric (Pepperdine) was first out of the pen for Thunder Bay. He would fight through two walks, two stolen bases and a hit by pitch in the fourth but keep it tied as the Huskies stranded three.
Huskies Reliever Owen Meaney (Texas) was not able to pull a Cindric as a whack of walks allowed the Cats to take the lead. Allard scored first base pass on the walk. Larson would walk on. A Lance Ford (Texas) error allowed Newton aboard and the bases were full of Cats. Edmondson also watched four go by to score Allard. Breen came through with actual contact on a sacrifice fly to right to score Larson. The Cats would end the inning with two runs on no hits though.
However, Cindric could not escape walk city in the bottom half. After hitting Collin Hopkins (Western Kentucky) with an upper arm fastball, two more walks would load the bases. Then Tappen crushed a grand slam to take the lead for the Huskies for good at 8-6.
Cindric would take the loss dropping his record to 0-1. He had five walks, four runs and four strikeouts. The one hit, the grand salami, he allowed turned out to be the difference.
Meaney would get the win, evening up his record at 1-1. He was lucky as he allowed two unearned runs on four walks and three strikeouts.
Another convoy of walks in the seventh allowed Guzman to pick up an insurance run on a sacrifice fly to make it 9-6.
Thunder Bay had a rally going in the eighth against Jack Corbell (Miami-Ohio). With two singles and two strikeouts, Karsten Vasquez (College of San Mateo-CA) would score on a Corbell wild pitch.
Corbell would recover to collect the save. But with his walk of Jakob Newton (Florida Tech) to start the ninth. That free pass pushes Newton’s On-Base Streak to 27 games.
These two teams will finish up the two game set on Friday night at Wade Memorial Stadium in Duluth. Thunder Bay looks to get Austin Eggleston his first win. The Friends University (KS) pitcher takes his 0-3 record to the mound in the start. Eggleston looks to bounce back from his last start at the Wade, where he was chased in the second inning.