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2014-05-28 at 16:58

Late collapse

By Leith Dunick,
Substance UseAre you pregnant and struggling with addictions during pregnancy? Talk to your healthcare

The Thunder Bay Border Cats have proven they’re good at climbing out of early holes.

The bad news is they keep slipping back in.

Playing in front of a cheering crowd of schoolchildren in a rare matinee affair, the Cats erased a three-run deficit in the sixth, but couldn’t complete the comeback and went down to defeat 7-4 at the hands of the St. Cloud Rox, opening their season 0-2 for a second straight year.

The defeat came a day after the Border Cats roared back from a seven-run deficit, only to fall 9-7 to St. Cloud.

“When we come back, we’ve got to be able to go right out there and get the guys right back in. We booted a ball at short, had a costly fly ball in left, things that in a couple of days won’t be happening,” manager Johnny Hernandez said.

It’s the little things that cost the Cats in the seventh, when they gave all three runs right back to St. Cloud.

It started with an error.

Thunder Bay native Carter McEachern bobbled a routine Liam Bedford grounder. A passed ball sent him to second and, with the bases loaded, Bedford scored when Cats reliever Wes Helsabeck  plunked Garrett McMullen.

Ryan Gregory drew a five-pitch walk to score another run and a Danny Baer singled scored one more before the inning came to a merciful end.

It’s early season jitters, suggested Thunder Bay’s Tyler Patterson, who finished with a pair of hits in four plate appearances, driving in the Cats’ opening run, a double into the leftfield corner that tied the score 1-1 in the fourth.

“A little bit. It’s good to see we’re battling back. We were right there and hopefully we can break the barrier tomorrow and get a win,” said Patterson, one of seven temporary players signed to fill out the Thunder Bay roster until the rest of the team arrives.

Border Cats starter Yuji Suzuki and St. Cloud starter Josh Taylor found themselves in a pitcher’s duel through three scoreless innings.

The Rox struck first in the fourth when Clay Ardeeser scored on a Kyle Thornell sacrifice fly. An inning later Ardeeser pushed St. Cloud in front 2-1, drawing a bases-loaded walk.

Another miscue cost the reliever Charles Thielmann a pair of unearned runs in the sixth when second-year leftfielder Alex Bautista dropped a Baer fly ball with two outs, allowing two more Rox runners to cross the plate, extending the St. Cloud lead to 4-1.

The Cats caught up thanks to an ineffective Daniel Martinez, who took over the St. Cloud pitching duties to start the sixth.

McEachern singled home a run to chase Martinez, who left with the bases loaded, unable to record an out.

Gregory, who started the game at 2B, struck out Patterson, but walked Tyler Robbins to score Thunder Bay’s third run. Bautista scored the equalizer on a Devin McLemore fielder’s choice.
Gregory was credited with the win, still the pitcher of record when the Rox took the lead for good. Helsabeck (0-1) was charged with the loss.

The Cats continue their season-opening four-game homestand Thursday night at Port Arthur Stadium against their cross-border rivals the Duluth Huskies.

Cat tracks: The team announced the Blue Jays instructional camp will arrive in town on June 21. No word on what former players might join the festivities … Attendance was 921, 14 more than opening night.

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