In an exhilarating matchup on Monday, the Thunder Bay Border Cats showcased their prowess as they embarked on a six-game road trip in Eau Claire. Their encounter with the Express at Carson Park resulted in a resounding victory, propelling them into sole possession of first place in the Great Plains East Division. The Border Cats triumphed with a 3-1 score in the opener of this thrilling two-game series, cementing their dominance in the divisional race.
With a current record of 15 wins and 10 losses, Thunder Bay now leads Eau Claire by one game in their quest for the first-half division title, leaving only seven games remaining. The Border Cats commenced their scoring spree in the sixth inning, breaking a previously stagnant game. The offensive surge was initiated by Tyler Griggs from Gonzaga University, who kick-started the action with a powerful single.
Griggs swiftly advanced around the bases following a sacrifice bunt executed by Travis Chestnut, hailing from Texas A&M University, along with a throwing error by the Express. Chestnut’s impeccable performance didn’t stop there, as he showcased his remarkable speed by stealing both second and third base. Ultimately, he crossed home plate courtesy of an RBI groundout by Cole Ketzner, representing South Alabama.
Chestnut remained a catalyst for Thunder Bay in the eighth inning, once again displaying his exceptional skills. With two outs on the board, he delivered a well-placed single, securing his third stolen base of the night. The stage was then set for Patrick Engskov from the University of Oklahoma, who stepped up to the plate and hit a single that brought Chestnut racing across home plate, further solidifying the Border Cats’ lead.
Although the Express managed to break the shutout in the last inning, taking advantage of a lost fly ball in the outfield and a wild pitch, it proved too little, too late. Thunder Bay’s formidable pitching rotation stifled their opponents, allowing a mere four hits throughout the game.
Evans Hendricks, hailing from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, set the tone with an impressive performance on the mound, striking out seven batters over 4 and 2/3 innings. Following Hendricks, the triumvirate of Billy Humphrey from Western Illinois University, Tanner Carter from Tarleton State University, and Jacob Gajic from Northwest Missouri State University worked in unison to secure the victory. Humphrey earned the win, improving his record to a pristine 4-0, while Gajic showcased his mettle by capturing the final six outs, striking out three batters and earning his first save of the season.
The Thunder Bay Border Cats will once again face off against the Eau Claire Express on Tuesday in a highly anticipated clash at 7:35pm ET. The visitors will entrust the mound to righthander Robert Spencer from Texas A&M University-Kingsville, as they seek to maintain their dominant form.
Subsequently, the two teams will travel to Thunder Bay for a two-game series at Port Arthur Stadium on Wednesday and Thursday, with both games commencing at 6:35pm ET. Expectations are high as these formidable teams clash once more, promising an electrifying display of talent and passion for the game.