By Lance Jones
Mark Anderson (Lafayette College) was untouchable through six innings to help his Thunder Bay Border Cats to a 3-1 win over the Mankato MoonDogs on Thursday night. With the win and a Duluth loss Thunder Bay has finally scratched and clawed their way out of the Great Plains East basement.
Anderson was just conducting the orchestra on this night. Able to pinpoint his fastball, mix in his change and rarely use his enigma inducing curve he racked up seven strikeouts. His defense was in complete harmony behind him committing no errors. In the first six innings, Anderson walked the same hitter, MoonDogs First Baseman Cuba Bess (Grand Canyon) twice where he managed to only reach second base in the fourth. And that was it.
Meanwhile, Mankato Starting Pitcher Tyler Lesley (Angelo State) was looking for a repeat performance of his previous outing against Thunder Bay. Back on June 7th, Lesley pitched one for the ages. He won the game, allowing just two unearned runs and striking out five in an eight inning gem. The Cats came out hitting the ball hard off Lesley in the first. Jakob Newton (Florida Tech) and Jake Engel (Dixie State) picked up singles but even the fly outs from Anthony Galati (Sacramento City College) and Jordan Larson (Northern Illinois) sounded great off the bat.
Lesley tried to match Anderson’s bagel shop routine on the mound but was touched for a run in the third. Nick Seamons (Nevada-Reno) hustled his way into a double. What looked like a single of the bat, into the gap in left centre, Seamons was thinking double all the way. He went in busting a gut to get into second just ahead of the throw. Newton sacrificed himself to move Seamons down to third. Galati swung a hard hit single to left to plate Seamons.
The lone run held up for a while. With Anderson throwing down his wizardry on the mound Lesley got on board with magic of his own. He would strike out eight over 7 2/3 innings including a run of 11 in a row put down after Galati’s single.
Michael Perez (UCLA) would break up Anderson’s no hit bid in the seventh. Josh Elvir (Angelo State) punched a double into right centre and that seen Anderson’s night over. Ryan Windham (Creighton), making his first appearance on the season was thrown feet to the fire with the two inherited runners from Anderson on the line. He would walk the bases load on the first hitter Tanner Craig (Evansville). Windham got a huge strikeout of Justin Mazzone (Seattle) on a 1-2 fastball. Windham then uncorked a wild pitch that got slightly away from Border Cat Catcher Alexander Hernandez (Nova Southeastern), but he was on the case immediately and prevented a run after punch tagging Perez who was overaggressive trying to steal home. A ground out later and the shutout was intact. Windham’s clutch performance secured the win for Anderson who moved to 2-0 on the season.
Thunder Bay would extend the lead with the bases loaded against Lesley in the bottom of the seventh. Alex Dorethy (Western Illinois) would come in with the job to keep it a deficit of one. However, an uncharacteristic first pitch was well wide of his Catcher, allowing Thomas Grilli (Panola College) to count. Newton would beat out a slow ground ball for an infield single, allowing Jorgenson to score. Seamons would try to speed racer his way home on the same play but was thrown out by MoonDogs First Baseman Bess by the narrowest of margins. Lesley (2-1) was stellar but wound up charged with the loss.
Carlos Lequerica (Bethune-Cookman) would strike out two in the eighth but would give up a run. Bess would come through on a sac fly to get the MoonDogs on the board.
Aaron Kern (Minot State) would allow a couple singles in the ninth but would strand them for his second save of the season.
The Border Cats (9-16) started 0-7 and since then have gone 9-9 in a division where the leaders are just two games (13-11) above .500. It is the Cats first win over Mankato this season with the MoonDogs outscoring the Cats by all of seven runs in the first four meetings.
Thunder Bay will look to continue the charge on Friday night with Joe Moran (Anderson University) (2-0 0.69 ERA) on the mound taking on Jack Schneider (Grand Canyon) (0-0 6.75) of Mankato. First pitch is slated for 7:05pm. It is the first Fly Away Friday, where you could win a trip for 2, sponsored by Porter Airlines. It is also Bark ‘n the Park night with free admission and treats to all dogs presented by 91.5 CKPR and ThunderPet and Pet Value.