The Thunder Bay Border Cats completed a 3-1 series win over the division-leading Waterloo Bucks with a 9-3 win on Monday night. The Border Cats are now just three games back of the Bucks and La Crosse Loggers for the division lead. With the 0-7 start behind them, the Cats have run their record to 8-7 since June 3rd and are back in the hunt for the division lead.
Waterloo made the most of a Border Cat defensive problem in the third. Sam Olson (Heartland CC) reached after an infield error. Patrick Ferguson’s (Kent St.) run-scoring single counted Olson and gave the Bucks a 1-0 lead.
It was the only run (unearned) Border Cats Starting Pitcher Trent Valentine (Iona College) allowed. He spread four hits with a walk and a strikeout over four innings in the start. Because he did not reach the fifth, Valentine would take no decision in the game.
Thunder Bay would knot it at one off of Bucks Starter Drew Irvine (Iowa) in the fourth inning. Andrew Shebloski (Saint Mary’s CA) put a shot to the hot corner that the third baseman threw away allowing Jake Engel (Dixie St.) to score.
The Cats would tee off in the fifth, sending every hitter to the plate. Nick Seamons (Nevada-Reno) walked and Nate Soriano (Houston Baptist) singled through a hole on the left side of the infield to put runners on the corners. Jakob Newton (Florida Tech) would give the Cats the lead for good on a sac fly to left. A bases-loaded free pass to Ryne Edmondson (Houston Baptist) extended it to 3-1. Conor Allard (Nevada-Reno) poked a single into left to count Vasquez. With Shebloski at the plate, a pass ball scored Engel. Then Shebloski made it 6-1 on another sacrifice fly to pick up his second run batted in of the game.
Lucas Reid (Sacramento City) came in and allowed a couple runs in his first frame out of the bullpen. Two hits and an error helped the Bucks get it to 6-3 after five.
Irvine’s (0-2) start came to an end after six innings. He allowed six runs (five earned) on seven hits and two walks in a rough outing.
There was little relief after Irvine as the Cats were gifted some runs. Bucks Reliever Jack Corkery (Swarthmore) walked the bases loaded. Then he got back-to-back outs before walking home Karsten Vasquez (Sacramento City) with Thomas Grilli (Panola) at the plate. Two pass balls would plate Engel and Edmondson extending the Border Cats lead to 9-3 and that was all they needed.
Reid would take care of the rest for Thunder Bay. He allowed one runner aboard in each of the sixth, seventh and eighth but would strand them all. He chalked up his first win of the season along with four strikeouts in four innings out of the bullpen.
Aaron Kern (Minot St.) would sweep away the three hitters he faced in the ninth to secure the series victory for the Border Cats.
The Border Cats travel to Eau Claire for a crucial two-game series on Tuesday and Wednesday to finish up this six-game road trip. Thunder Bay currently sits two games back of the Express for third place in the Great Plains East division, having lost the first two meetings with Eau Claire earlier this month. The Cats are looking for their second three-game winning streak this season.