THUNDER BAY -- Michael Daley had the Waterloo Bucks number for three innings.
But by the time the fourth arrived, they figured out the Thunder Bay Border Cats right-hander, quickly ending his afternoon with an eight-spot that put the matinee affair out of reach in a hurry before ending in an 11-6 loss for the Cats.
Daley hit the first batter he faced in the fourth, then surrendered five consecutive singles. Add in another hit batsman and an error to boot and manager Johnny Hernandez had no choice but to give him the quick hook.
“I think we just got used to him a little bit,” said Waterloo first baseman Ryan Nagle, who finished the day with two hits in five trips to the plate, driving in three.
“He’s a good pitcher so we just had to get adjusted to him and get the swings on him.”
Hitting is contagious, Nagle added.
“Maybe he was having a bad inning out there, but when hits are hits and you get him, that’s how you score, when you get him in a row,” he said.
The win, coming after a disappointing late-inning loss the night before, was Waterloo’s fifth in six meetings with Thunder Bay this season, a year after sweeping all eight duels between the two clubs.
And with six teams within two games in the second-half, Northwods League North Division chase entering play Tuesday at Port Arthur Stadium, every game counts, Nagle said.
“It’s huge. Last night was a tough loss for us, so we’ve got to keep winning if we want to stay up there in the race,” he said. “Wins are huge at this point in the season.”
The Bucks, who rode seven stellar four-hit innings from starter Eric Veglahn (W, 2-0), improved to 15-10 in second half play with the 11-6 win, while the last place Border Cats fell to 5-18.
Thunder Bay didn’t get on the board until the sixth, when shortstop Jordan Serena cracked a two-run shot, his third of the season that cut the deficit to 9-2.
“I was just looking for the pitch that he threw me the next pitch and I happened to hit it out. It was kind of the luck of the draw, what I was looking for in my approach and took advantage of it,” said Serena of his lone hit in five at bats.
After Waterloo scored single runs in the eighth and ninth, Thunder Bay tacked on four more in their last at bat against reliever T.J. Peterson, Cory Kay, Ty Blankmeyer and Tyler Patterson each with run-scoring singles.
But with two on and two out, Monday night’s hero Rob Paller lined to short, ending the contest.
It was too little, too late, Serena said.
“It’s tough to come back when you’re down 11-2. It’s pretty steep,” Serena said.
Daley (1-4) took the loss.
Cat tracks: The Border Cats play a split-city doubleheader on Wednesday, hosting the Duluth Huskies at Port Arthur Stadium at noon, then will make the trek down Highway 61 for the rematch in Duluth … Attendance was 474.
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