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Crafty Cats Slip Past Bucks

By Lance Jones

One order of boom stick as an appetizer, the main course of donut pitching mix and a little pickoff dessert was the meal the Thunder Bay Border Cats offered on Thursday night. Thunder Bay opened a four game home stand with a 4-1 win over the Waterloo Bucks. Jakob Newton (Florida Tech) offered the boom stick, and later became a menace on the base paths. Ryan Windham (Creighton University-NE) threw a shutout seven and was dealing the whole game through. Austin Eggleston (Friend University-KS) provided a little flair in the late innings to seal the victory.

Waterloo Starting Pitcher Peyton Fuller (Oregon) but very few pitches poorly on the night. However, he hit Karsten Vasquez (College of San Mateo-CA) with a pitch on 2-2 in the Border Cats first at bat. Newton followed by taking a high 1-2 fastball and crushing his first home run of the season to right. It was one of Newton’s two hits in the game.

Fuller was a part time escapist, running the razor’s edge in his start. In the third he kept a curvy number off the board. After Joe Jimenez hit the first of his two singles on the day, JJ Rollon (Pima CC-AZ) walked in a tough seven pitch at bat, then Vasquez trying to bunt and sacrifice ended up aboard after Fuller could not come up with the play made barehanded. However Fuller recovered to get a ground ball out of Newton. Shortstop Bennett Hostetler (North Dakota State) picked up the ball tagged second and fired over to first. This allowed Jimenez home. A further ground out ended the threat with Fuller keeping it to just one run scored and a 3-0 deficit.

And so Border Cat Starter Windham cruised along. He allowed all of one single per inning over the first three, and faced some hard hitting contact off the Bucks bats, but all that effort managed to find his defenders. Windham 1-2-3’d the fourth before running into one of two only real spots of trouble he’d find on the night. Kevin Blum (Rutgers) got aboard on a single to shortstop that Nate Soriano (Houston Baptist) despite all his effort could not do much about. Blum would theft second base and Morgan Hostetler (Corban) walked. Then Windham got a big strikeout and a ground out to strand two.

Fuller would continue to hold steady in the home half of the fifth. After hitting Soriano with a high fastball in the armpit/shoulder area, which seemed to catch him in the wrong spot, Jimenez and Rollon would clock in with back to back singles. A pop out and a second Newton ground into a Bennett Hostetler double play, which was a complete perfect forgery of Bennett’s earlier double play ended the bases loaded threat.

Windham and Fuller continued with the donuts on the board. In Windham’s final inning, he allowed a sharp hit single to Alonzo Rubalcaba (Santa Barbara CC) to start the frame. Windham paired off a couple of massive strikeouts before walking Pitcher turned Second baseman Noah Conlon (UC-San Diego). Patrick Ferguson (Kent State) however grounded into a defensive shift to end the danger.

Fuller’s night was done after throwing six strong. Unlucky to take a loss, dropping to 1-3, he allowed three runs on six hits and two walks, with three strikeouts.

Windham put together the perfect donut mix though. He finally solved the inexplicable fact he had no wins as a starter with another quality start, driving his record to 3-2 with the win and 1-2 as a starter. Windham mixed in the six hits and two walks allowed with the perfect dash of seven strikeouts to carry the Cats into the late innings.

Fireballer Jack Dolak (San Diego) came in for Waterloo in the seventh, while the crafty Eggleston took the bump for Thunder Bay in the eighth.

Eggleston ran into immediate danger. Bennett Hostetler cracked a triple into the right-centre alley to greet Eggleston rudely. Dylan Phillips (Kansas State) followed by getting the Bucks on the board with a single to centre. The inning was getting dicey as Blake Wagenseller (Cal Poly) walked on as the tying run representative. Phillips was the first man to be caught out by the Eggleston pickoff Move of Doom at second, with Mike Nyisztor (Rutgers) at the plate. Nyisztor singled moving Wagenseller to second. Then the Move of Doom struck again catching Wagenseller this time. A long long fly ball from Rubalcaba that Rollon tracked down ended the inning with the Cats up 3-1.

Newton laid in a perfect bunt single that tickled the foul line to showcase his speed and start the eighth. Dolak would get back to back strikeouts. As that was going on, Newton stole second, then stole third to generate a scoring opportunity. Jordan Larson did not have to be asked twice as he rolled a chalk laden double down the right field line, and the Cats were back up by three.

Eggleston faced the only error of the game, which allowed Blum on, but swept through the next three hitters to shut the door and pick up his first save of the season.

Thunder Bay has a shot at winning a season series this year, as they have won six of nine against Waterloo. A win on Friday night will do it. First pitch at Port Arthur Stadium is scheduled for 7:35pm. It is Fly-Away Friday, where you can win a trip for two anywhere Porter Airlines flies. It is also Post Game Fireworks night and season ticket redemption night.