Cats Seize Opportunities to Sweep Huskies
By Lance Jones
The Thunder Bay Border Cats got out hit and committed three errors but persevered to overcome their old Highway 61 nemesis in a 4-2 win over the Duluth Huskies on Sunday afternoon. The win completed a two game sweep of Duluth. The season series is now complete with the Huskies having secured the Superior Cup already, having won eight of 12 matchups on the year. Phenomenal pitching was on display and the Cats were able to square away their chances better, make some stellar defensive plays and that was the difference in the win.
Travis Booth (California Baptist) put up Pitcher of the Night numbers against Thunder Bay. In just his second start of the summer Booth struck out two batters per inning over the first four innings. However, the Border Cats managed to score on an opportunity in the second. Anthony Galati (Radford University-VA) nailed a comebacker off of the bottom of Booth’s glove and foot for an infield single. He would swipe second, and on the play Noah Marcelo (Houston Baptist), the Husky second baseman would have to leave the game as Galati’s slide went through his hand and forearm. It was an unfortunate but unavoidable collision. Joe Jimenez (Chapman University-CA) would smack a double into right centre to put the Cats on the board.
Thunder Bay would double it up in the second. Ryne Edmondson (Houston Baptist), the hero of last night’s game, would crush a ground rule double to the fence. Jakob Newton (Florida Tech), owner of the 2019 Northwoods League’s best on base streak of 37 games did it on an infield single that would score Edmondson.
Border Cat Starter Kyle Wellman (Hendrix College-AR) bounced back from a rough outing last time out to throw a gem. He was cruising through three before he was touched for a run. The lefty seen his third baseman, Noah Reed (Lincoln Trail College-IL), commit an error with one gone in the fourth on a Max Guzman (Tennessee Weslayan) grounder. The heart of the Husky lineup went to work. Danny Zimmerman (Michigan) singled, followed by Nico Lima (Oxnard) poking one to the 5-6 gap that the Border Cat shortstop had no chance on and Guzman came home. Aaron Greenfield (Cal State-Dominguez Hills) took advantage of bases loaded by sliding one to right to count Zimmerman. And Galati threw a dead strike cannonball from right to get Lima at third with a key second out. The inning would end tied.
Booth would strikeout the side in the fifth. The Husky Starter left after the sixth in a tied game, a major shame given he threw down some gaudy numbers. 13 Strikeouts of 25 batters faced, including six in a row at one point and two runs allowed on four hits and two walks. He would give way to Beau Wills (Concordia-WI).
Wellman though, kept chugging along. He worked out of a double and sacrifice in the fifth with back to back ground balls to Reed, who made up for the earlier error, handling both with ease.
In the sixth Wellman made the amazing look easy. Zimmerman had walked. Lima reached on a tough error charged to Reed as the ball eluded an attempted back hand stab. Greenfield stayed out of a double play with his speed, putting runners on first and third and two out. Then the Huskies tried a double steal, and Jimenez rifled a BB for second that cued Zimmerman to try and score. But Wellman, who must have the eye hand coordination to kill a thin mosquito with a blowgun from two hundred yards, caught that Jimenez bullet amazingly then fired home in a hurry. It caught Zimmerman, the potential winning run between third and home and eventually he was tagged out after a series of throws to end the threat.
The Cats would make Wellman a winner in the seventh. Reed took a pitch from Wills in the left hip/glute area to get aboard. The pain paid off. Soriano grounded out to first and Reed was fast enough to stay out of a double play and get to second. Reed then scored as JJ Rollon (Pima CC-AZ) snapped a streaking single to centre and the throw from the centerfielder was offline and kicked by the catcher to the entrance of the Husky dugout. The throw allowed Rollon to second. However, the defenders inexplicably stood around with the ball sitting on the track and Rollon smartly took third. Edmondson would score him on a sac fly to centre to reinstall the two run lead, this time of the 4-2 variety.
Wellman would score his first win, one well deserved as he threw a quality start. A real pitcher’s win he went an unflashy seven, allowing two runs (one earned) on a walk, spraying around nine hits, pitching to contact and getting four punch outs.
Peyton Burks (Arkansas-Pine Bluff) seen a bit of trouble with a leadoff single surrendered in the eighth and a walk to start the ninth but was unflappable otherwise, striking out three of eight batters faced for his second save of the year.
Thunder Bay is off on their final bus trip of the season. It sees them off to Waterloo, Iowa for their final meetings with the Bucks and that two game series sandwiches the Big League Dreams Showcase. Then a drive to La Crosse for a pair before finishing the season at Port Arthur with the St. Cloud Rox for a doubleheader Saturday and a matinee affair Sunday.