The third time is the charm.
Or maybe it’s the 10th error of the night.
Either way, on Thursday night it added up to the Border Cats first win of the 2014 Northwoods League campaign.
For the third straight night the Cats fell behind early and rallied to claw back to even ground. But unlike their opening two contests, this time the Cats finally managed to grab the lead in the eighth inning and held on for a 7-5 win over the visiting and still winless Duluth Huskies (0-3).
It was a wild finish, that almost never was for the Border Cats, playing in front of just 447 fans at Port Arthur Stadium.
Tyler Rolland doubled off Huskies reliever Patrick McGrath, but was nailed at the plate trying to score on a Brandon Arnold infield grounder.
But a throwing error by Duluth shortstop Alex Greene with two Cats on base led to the go-ahead run, Devin McLemore scoring from second to put Thunder Bay up 6-5. Sal Taraomina provided the insurance, singling home Brandon Arnold, who had gone to third on the aforementioned error, with the game’s final run.
It was ugly, manager Johnny Hernandez said, but a win’s a win and something to build on going forward.
“As you saw today, we threw the ball around a little bit, but it worked out,” said Hernandez, who earned his first Northwoods League victory, his team improving to 1-2 in the penultimate game of the Cats’ season-opening, four-game home-stand.
“That’s baseball. That’s why they have that error box up there. We put four of them up. But that’s what makes this game great. You have two bad innings the first two and the last inning we scored a couple of runs and put the game away.”
Asked how it felt to get his first win under his belt, Hernandez was loathe to talk about himself. It’s all about the team, he said.
He’s hoping the come-from-behind win will mark a turnaround for the squad, which rallied back from seven- and three-run deficits the previous two days, only to wind up adding to the loss column.
“That’s the third game in a row they came back. This time we closed it out. So it’s only up from here,” he said.
Just three of Thunder Bay’s seven runs, off a trio of Huskies hurlers, were earned, and only one came with an RBI.
Hometown favourite Carter McEachern, who finished with two hits and a walk in three plate appearances, scoring once, said it feels great to finally finish one off.
“We’ve been battling back every game and now to finally battle back and win is huge,” he said. “Just to get that zero off the win column is great. It wasn’t a pretty game. That’s not pretty on the board. But we won the game and that’s all that matters, really.”
The Huskies struck quickly in the first off Border Cats pitcher Zack Speer, a pair of infield errors setting the table for a run-scoring single by Mac James and a sac fly off Nathan Krause’s bat.
Brandon Arnold, who walked off Duluth starter Riley Sanderson, later scored on a wild pitch to cut the lead in half.
Duluth added single runs in the second, fifth and sixth to go up 5-1, but the Cats stormed back with four in the bottom of the sixth, chasing Sanderson after Nick Studer and Alex Bautista singled to start the inning.
Both would score on an error by reliever Jordan Deal. McEachern and Tyler Rolland also scored to tie the score.
Kevin Woebke, who tossed two innings of scoreless, one-hit ball, earned the win, his first. Devin McLemore, pitching for a second night in a row, captured the save. The loss went to Deal.
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