The sun was shining brightly but it was a dark day for the Thunder Bay Border Cats as they dropped a double-header to the Rochester Honkers.
It's now a 2-6 season for the Cats, a mirror image of the Honkers' 6-2, after the 11-1 and 4-0 losses as they head out from Port Arthur Stadium on a six game road trip.
It started for the Cats in the top of the fifth in the first game, foreshadowing an ugly sixth to follow. After fanning a pair Cat's starter Tyler Lequire, tagged with the loss after striking out six and giving up three runs in his 4 and two-thirds of work, walked two consecutive batters to end his day. The Honkers would only score one, a single to centre field from Travis Evanson and eventually leave the bases loaded.
The dreaded sixth saw 11 Honkers at the plate and seven runs scored, including a two-run homer to left field from Karl Sorenson off of Thunder Bay's own Lucas Scoccia who made his hometown debut.
It all began innocently enough when pitcher Reid Peavy, one of four Cats pitchers to take the mound in the seven inning game, walked Ryne Roper.
The Honkers' bats exploded after that with an Alex Schultz single, another single by Leonard Brewster to score Roper and a stand-up double by Reid Roper scored Schultz. A sacrifice fly from Anthony Sequeria plated Brewster before another stand-up double from
Evanson scored Roper to end Peavy's day.
Cats' manager Johnny Hernandez said that's what happens when hitters are allowed to put the ball in play.
"We fell behind in counts. Anytime you fall behind in the count a hitter's confidence goes up," he said.
Scoccia was welcomed home with three consecutive hits, including the Sorenson offering and a single from Blaise Lezynski brought in Evanson, before getting Ryne Roper to pop-up and end the inning.
Hernandez said a manager always wants to give the pitcher a lead or a fresh inning to walk into but that can't happen when the team is behind.
"We've been forced to debut guys in pressure situations," he said. "Sometimes it can be a little too much."
The Honkers would score another in the seventh totaling 15 hits to the Cat's six. The home team also stranded nine base-runners in the game.
Thunder Bay's lone run came in the bottom of the fourth as Honkers' catcher Jack Goihl overthrew second trying to gun down Tyler Patterson and Cory Kay, who led the inning with a walk, ran home.
Between games Cats' manager Johnny Hernandez said the rotation needs to throw strikes. There were too many 2-1 or 3-1 counts in the first game.
"We're turning even counts into hitting counts," he said.
Winner Brandon Zywicki pitched 3-and-third of shut-out ball with two strike-outs and three hits. Starter Blake Quinn gave up three hits, no earned runs and four walks with four Ks.
The Honkers took to the mound even stronger in the second game with Brandon Stennis winning over four innings, five strike-outs, one hit and one walk. Starter Nick Gruener also gave up a hit and three walks while striking out four.
A casualty of Rochester's 13 hits was the ERA of Cats' starter Kevin Woebke, who had yet to give up a run this season but was tagged for two and the loss in his four innings. It ended after a double to the centre-field wall by Casey Fletcher scored tanner Buenting in the top of the third.
Buenting would be a casualty himself when Kay threw him out at home from left field, one of the few bright spots on the day, in the next inning.
Attendance for the two games was 486.
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