Winning isn’t everything, but right about now it’d be a nice change for the Thunder Bay Border Cats.
Mired in their worst skid of the Northwoods League season, the Cats dropped another one on Saturday, four errors fuelling a 7-4 loss to the visiting and slumping Alexandria Blue Anchors, who entered the contest on a six-game slide of their own.
A four-run seventh proved to be the difference for Alexandria, breaking open a tight 2-1 game. Thunder Bay fought back with three of their own in their next at bat, but couldn’t complete the comeback, stranding a pair of runners in the ninth, the tying run at the dish.
“It’s hard, but not worrying about wins and losses is probably the biggest thing you’ve got to do,” said Cats second baseman Jordan Serena, who hit a bases-clearing single in the sixth that scored three runs and pulled his side within a pair.
“It’s probably the hardest thing to do when you’re losing so many in a row, just trying to play hard and come out. We’ve got to trust what we do. We know we can win games.”
When things aren’t going well, even the little things become glaring mistakes.
Take the sixth, for example.
With none out, the Cats (1-9) trailing 2-1 and Serena standing on second, courtesy of a single and a stolen base, Cory Kay stepped to the plate, asked to lay down a sacrifice bunt.
The pitch from Alexandria starter Spencer Koopmans (W, 1-1), was high and inside, but Kay still managed to get the bat on the ball. It squirted to the mound, where Koopmans turned and threw Serena out at third. Kay was promptly caught stealing second.
In the ninth, trailing by two, the Cats allowed leadoff hitter Cam Duzenack to reach on a single, an error by third baseman Adam Collins putting him in scoring position. He took third on a ground-out to second, and Thunder Bay manager Johnny Hernandez called for an intentional walk to Roman Collins in order to set up a possible inning-ending double play.
Instead reliever Zack Speer fired the ball to the backstop, allowing Duzenack to score an insurance run.
“It’s the little things, like playing catch. If you can’t play catch, you can’t play this game. And that’s been hurting us lately,” the manager said.
The team has to avoid those big innings, especially in tight games, Hernandez added.
“That’s what been hurting us all year, those late innings, giving up runs. It seems like we’re one pitch away from getting out of it. We haven’t been able to execute late in the games,” he said.
The Blue Anchors (3-8) struck first in the first, Duzenack doubling home the first run off Border Cats starter Yuji Suzuki (L, 1-3) and later scoring on a Rickey Sanchez sacrifice fly. They were the only two runs Suzuki surrendered on the night.
The Cats got one back in the bottom of the first when all-star catcher Christian Correa singled Cory Kay home from second.
Alexandria’s first run of the seventh came when reliever Michael Daley walked Collins with the bases loaded. Two more came home on a Sanchez single, the fourth and final run on an Aaron Gertz single.
Kevin Walsh picked up the save, his third of the season.
The Cats and Blue Anchors wrap up Thunder Bay’s four-game home stand Sunday at Port Arthur Stadium. Game time is 5:05 p.m.
Cat tracks: Attendance was 574 … Thunder Bay’s Carter McEachern will need about five weeks to recover from an arm injury suffered when he was hit by a pitch early in the season and won’t be back … All-star reliever Zac Thiac has not been yet cleared medically to play and will not join the club this season … Infielder Kyle Hann is expected back in the next week or so, barring any setbacks.
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