When opportunity knocks in the Northwoods League, it’s best to answer the door or suffer the consequences.
On Monday the Thunder Bay Border Cats chose the latter route, leaving six men on in scoring position and coming up one run short in their bid for a fourth-straight victory, dropping a 3-2 decision at the hands of the Rochester Honkers and starter Jared Miller.
In the fifth, with runners on second and third with one out, Miller mowed down Phillip Lyons and Cory Kay to end the threat.
In the sixth, with the bases loaded, two out and a run in, Miller forced a ground ball from the bat of catcher Danny Bethea, escaping with a 3-1 lead.
In the eighth they had runners on first and third with no outs, but a timely double play and conservative base-running call left the Cats off the scoreboard once again.
It was just that kind of night, said Bethea, whose ninth-inning line drive cleared the wall in left to pull the home squad within a run.
“Our pitchers kept us in the game the whole time and we made some mistakes. They did a good job bailing us out. We had opportunities. We had the bases loaded a couple of times, but unfortunately we just couldn’t cash them in.
“It was just good pitching on their part,” said Bethea, whose homerun was his first of the season in just his sixth appearance with the Cats.
Manager Andy Judkins was in complete agreement, though he pointed to an early error by Brett Kay that led to a pair of unearned Rochester runs and put the Cats in a hole they never crawled out of in front of 876 fans at Port Arthur Stadium.
“It started in the first, to be honest with you, with the booted ball. But that happens. It takes a bad hop, he doesn’t get a good read on it. Sometimes they don’t make every play, but it started in the first,” Judkins said.
“I thought (starter) Garrett (Hughes) held his ground and Mitch (McQueen) came in. Pitching kept us there, but like I said, the hitting wasn’t there.”
Hughes who also gave up a run in the third when Brandon Defazio singled home Justin Parr, was solid until Judkins lifted him with two outs in the sixth, allowing seven hits and two walks, while striking out seven.
Miller (2-0), lasted an inning-and-a-third longer, and had an easy go of it through four, facing the minimum 12 batters before giving up hits to Adam Landecker and Bethea in the fifth.
Thunder Bay’s first run came on a Brett Kay double, driving home pinch hitter Paydon Cawley Lamb, who singled to start the inning.
Bethea had a chance to break it open, but was unable to come through in the clutch – this time.
“Their guy did a good job mixing pitches and was locating well. I was looking for a different pitch and he threw a fastball in and I wasn’t able to get my hands through,” he said.
After his ninth-inning blast of closer Dylan Nelson made it 3-2 Rochester, the Honkers closer struck out Lyons and pinch-hitter Matt Jones, but the third out didn’t come quite as quickly. Justin Higley hit a short bouncer down the third-base line that resulted in a single, then Cawley Lamb followed with an infield single to short. But it was all for not. Kay popped lightly to short for the third out.
Hughes took the loss and fell to 0-1, with the save going to Nelson, his first.
The Cats and Honkers play the fourth game of their five-game set on Tuesday. Game time is 7:05 p.m.
Click here to report a typo or error
You must log in to add comments.
Create a new account
Remember me next time.