It was a win that meant little in the standings.
But on the night after being eliminated from the playoff hunt, the Thunder Bay Border Cats put on a show for the Port Arthur Stadium faithful, ending their home schedule on a winning note, to the delight of the season-high 1,511 fans that came to bid farewell to the 2012 edition of their beloved Northwoods League team.
Sean Becker was lights out on the mound for the Cats, giving up just two hits in seven innings of work, coasting on a 6-1 lead his teammates backed him to by the time three innings were in the books.
Add to that a two-hit, two RBI performance by catcher Jerrick Suiter and a plethora of wild pitches by Huskies starter Josh Mooney –five in total – and it was a perfect night for the Cats to go out on a high note and play the spoiler role at the same time.
The loss, just the Huskies second in its last nine games against the Cats, assured Duluth’s season will end on Sunday, dropping them from the playoff hunt.
“I really felt like I wanted to bounce back after the start I had in St. Cloud,” said Becker, who finished his rookie season with a 3-1 record with Friday’s win.
“It was good to come back with the last start of the season and finish strong, especially in front of this crowd. It was pretty fun to be able to come out and get one last win.”
Though he’d rather be in the playoffs, Becker said he doesn’t mind ruining other teams’ chances.
“Whenever you can play that card, it’s fun. You may not be in it anymore, but you still play the game the same way, play it hard, play it tough, and get any win that you can, no matter what day it is.”
For Suiter, donning the tools of ignorance for the first time this season, said the win was a matter of taking advantage of the Huskies mistakes and making them pay.
“It’s a big part of baseball. Baseball is a game of failure. Guys not getting a hit seven out of 10 times and you’re a hall-of-famer, hitting .300. But that’s exactly what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to take care of the mistakes,” he said.
Suiter had nothing but praise for his starting pitcher, who struck out nine on the night.
“Sean did great. He’s not one of those guys who throws real hard, but he’s got good stuff and he throws strikes, and that’s what we needed,” said Suiter, who wound up hitting .345 with 19 RBI in just 15 games for Thunder Bay.
After scoring one in the first, the Cats took control of the contest with a trio of runs in the second, Brett Kay singling home a run sandwiched between a pair that plated thanks to Mooney wild pitches. Andrew Ayers and Suiter drove in a run apiece in the third to make it 6-1 Thunder Bay, Duluth’s lone run coming in the fourth when Austin Dubberly came home on a passed ball.
Becker settled in nicely, hitting a batter and walking another over his final four innings, the only other batter to reach hitting first on an error.
Chad Richie and Jordan McCoy each tossed an inning of relief for the Cats, allowing a hit apiece to put the game away.
Cats manager Andy Judkins, who said he’s not sure if he’ll be back next year – his wife is expecting a baby in January – said it was a great way to end the home schedule.
“It’s always nice when you can get an early lead. It takes pressure off the pitcher and the hitters are more relaxed and calm,” Judkins said.
“It was a good night for everybody.”
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