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2014-07-13 at 23:55

Paller's walk-off grand slam snaps Cats nine-game losing streak

By Matt Vis,
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THUNDER BAY -- Robb Paller saved his biggest swing of the season for a clutch occasion.

Trailing by two runs in the bottom of the ninth, Paller launched a walk-off grand slam over the right-centre fence to lift the Thunder Bay Border Cats to a 13-11 victory over the Alexandria Blue Anchors at Port Arthur Stadium on Sunday.

The blast snapped a nine-game losing skid in dramatic fashion as the Border Cats (2-9) picked up only their second win in the final half of the campaign.

The late game hero hopes the flair of victory will give the team a desperately needed shot of adrenaline as they go through the rest of the schedule.

“Hopefully we can get some momentum and confidence and it will put us on a streak going the other way, going up,” said Paller, who finished the game with five runs batted in. “It’s just what we needed.”

Border Cats rookie skipper Johnny Hernandez believes the effort rallying together to pull it out can validate the work the players continued to put in through the slump.

After all, success breeds success.

“We’ve been working really hard and the tough part about working really hard is when you’re not getting results it can be frustrating,” Hernandez said.

“These guys don’t give up. You don’t know when it’s going to turn around but when it does it feels pretty good. I think that was it.”

Aware of the circumstances and recent trends, Paller entered the batter’s box just looking to make something, anything, happen.

“It was a big spot and we’ve been struggling so I was just trying not to do too much,” Paller said. “He made a mistake, belt-high and that’s when home runs are accidents. You can’t go up there trying to jack balls.”

He knew the ball had a chance to get out the second it left his bat but wasn’t sure until after he saw it disappear behind the wall.
It didn’t hit him that he had ended the contest until halfway around the diamond.

“Rounding first I was like, I hit a home run, cool,” he said. “Once I touched second I was like wait - that was a walk-off.”

By the time he rounded third the entire dugout spilled onto the field and was waiting for him at the home plate. Within the jubilation was an almost collective sigh of relief.

Things looked good for Thunder Bay early on as the Border Cats jumped out to a three run lead after the first inning.

Border Cats starter Charles Thielmann was dealing on the mound, holding the Blue Anchors scoreless through the first four innings.

Alexandria exploded for five runs in the fifth frame, only one of them earned, to take the lead and spell the end of the night for Thielmann.

The Border Cats tied it up in the bottom half but the Blue Anchors took a one run lead in the sixth and held it until the final inning after the club’s traded three-spots in the seventh.

The Blue Anchors looked to pick up insurance, scoring twice to extend the lead to three runs.

Jordan Serena drove in four runs for Thunder Bay while Nick Studer also brought home a pair.

Cat tracks: Attendance was announced at 452…Paller (1-for-3, 1 home run, 5 RBI) was named the league's player of the night. His 28 RBI leads the team...Serena has 6 RBIs in his last two games and is on a three-game RBI streak…Cats pitcher Tyler Lequire made his final appearance of the season due to an innings limit imposed by his collegiate squad. He finishes with an 0-2 record and 31 innings pitched in 19 games. He had only allowed four runs in his final 15 appearances…The Cats are off Monday and will hit the road to face the Eau Claire Express for a pair of games on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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