THUNDER BAY – SPORTS – An enthusiastic crowd of 915 fans turned out as the Thunder Bay Border Cats faced off against the Minnesota Mud Puppies in what ended up a one-sided Tuesday night showdown. The Border Cats, hoping to claw their way back into contention, saw the Mud Puppies as their stepping stone to a second-half surge.
The Mud Puppies, a traveling team without a home stadium, were not expected to put up much of a fight. With a single win in eight second-half games, they were the underdogs coming into the series opener at Port Arthur Stadium.
But the Border Cats, stuck in the mud at 3-11 and languishing at the bottom of the Great Plains East Division, were in desperate need of a win. With a nine-game deficit and just three weeks to make a comeback, the pressure was on.
Unfortunately, it was not the Border Cats’ night.
The Mud Puppies pounced early, taking a 4-0 lead in the first inning. Newcomer Riely Hunsaker seemed to feel the heat in his NWL debut, burning through 33 pitches to get out of the first frame.
The fans didn’t give up, and it seemed that the Cat’s responded in their half of the first inning.
The Border Cats didn’t back down, roaring back with five runs in the bottom of the first. A two-run single from Carter Allen sent Mud Puppies’ starter Will Fazio packing after just two outs. The Cats kept the momentum going, adding four more in the second to take a 9-5 lead.
Just when things were looking up for the Border Cats, the Mud Puppies made a game-changing decision. They brought in Josh Kirchoff, who proceeded to shut down the Border Cats for the next five innings. After a shaky start, Kirchoff and the Minnesota bullpen locked down, not allowing a hit for the rest of the game.
The Mud Puppies’ bats then came alive in the sixth. After Border Cats’ Griffin Catto struggled with control, walking three of the first four batters, Jacob Gagic took over. But the Mud Puppies were relentless. Chayton Fischer doubled, scoring two, and Kyle Law singled to right, scoring two more, giving the Mud Puppies a 10-9 lead they would not relinquish. They went on to defeat the Thunder Bay Border Cats 13-9, much to the disappointment of the 915 fans in attendance.
The Border Cats and Mud Puppies will lock horns again on Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. Stay tuned, folks, for another exciting game of baseball!