It was the kind of game that was going to be a punch in the gut for somebody. The Border Cats delivered the blow.
Anthony Galati’s 12th inning RBI single was the winning margin as the Thunder Bay Border Cats squeezed out a 7-6 win over the La Crosse Loggers on Sunday at Port Arthur Stadium.
Tied at 4-4 going into the 10th inning, the Northwoods League extra-inning rule went into effect of putting a man at second with none out. It produced solo tallies, nothing in the 11th, and a La Crosse run in the 12th, setting the stage for Thunder Bay’s two-run uprising.
Nick Seamons scored on a wild pitch after a Jake Engel bunt in Thunder Bay’s half to tie it. Ryne Edmondson walked, Conor Allard singled, and Galati singled sharply to right field with one out, scoring Edmondson to set off a spirited celebration down the right field line.
“It was great,” said Galati, who collected two singles, a walk, and had a sharp line out to first base in the first inning with the bases loaded. “Definitely picking up our pitcher (Aaron Kern) and catcher (Joe Jimenez), they got a little mixed up, the ball got past them in the top of the 12th. They (La Crosse) scored that one.
“It was good to finally do something for the team,” added Galati, who was doused with water and ice during his on-field interview. “The Cats are rolling right now, and it just felt super good to contribute.”
La Crosse falls to 13-15 while Thunder Bay climbs to 11-16 with just enough oxygen to stay relevant in the first half Great Plains East Division race.
After an off day today, the Cats have four on the road and four at home to close out the first half.
“It’s anybody’s game, especially in our division,” said Thunder Bay manager Eric Vasquez. “We run off three out of four, I’ll take my chances running three out of four for the next two weeks. See where we’re at.”
Thunder Bay built a 4-0 lead through five innings.
Three consecutive singles greeted La Crosse starter Matt Kennedy. Engel drove in a run with a single and Allard’s RBI groundout netted the second run. A pair of La Crosse errors in the fifth seeded another pair of Thunder Bay runs.
Cats starting pitcher Tyler Hansen was in cruise control after five innings, allowing just a hit. Brady Allen’s controversial triple in the sixth inning caught but then bobbled off the fence keyed a four-hit two-run inning that sliced the Cats lead in half.
The Loggers added two more runs in the seventh. A single and a walk ended Hansen’s day with two outs in the frame. Reliever Brendan Cindric walked JT Schwartz and gave up a two-run single to Brady Allen to tie the game.
Loggers starter Matt Kennedy went seven complete innings for La Crosse, allowing just two earned runs as La Crosse committed four errors.
“In the whole first half we hadn’t played any extra-inning games,” said Loggers manager Brian Lewis. “Now we’ve played three of four. It was a great game, back and forth. We came out on the short end of the stick. Early on we didn’t play very good defence. When you look at it through that lens we probably didn’t play well enough to win the game.”
Both teams went three deep into their respective bullpens. Aaron Kern picked up the win for Thunder Bay, while Lalo Porras gave up the decisive single to Galati that ended the game.
“The guys stayed in it. Our pitching stayed in it, our defence stayed in it,” said Vasquez. “It was nice to see them just keep on going. Be patient. We’re going to get it. Even those things that go sideways, that passed ball (in the 12th), they score a run. We didn’t panic.”
Meanwhile, Cats shortstop Garrett Saunders has signed as a free agent contract with the Atlanta Braves. Saunders has reported to the Braves advanced rookie level team in Danville, Va., of the Appalachian League.