Leave it to a Canadian to get the job done when the weather’s cold.
The Thunder Bay Border Cats came into their home opener Saturday night having been out-scored 17-4, leadiing to an 0-3 start.Trailing the Willmar Stingers 4-0 after four innings, the skid appeared it would continue unabated.
But then the offence clicked in as the Cats fought to capture their 2013 home opener at Subway Field.
Pickering, Ont.'s Michael Foster turned around the Cats bats, blasting a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth propelling Thunder Bay way to a 7-4 comeback win, the team’s first triumph of the season. The shot over the right-field wall brought all 609 frigid fans to their feet.
“Once that crowd started getting into it you could feel our guys getting the confidence back,” manager Dan Holcomb said. “From that hit on you could tell a sense in the dugout that we knew we were going to win.”
“There was no doubt that we were winning that game,” he said.
Staring the game at second base, Foster went 3-for-5 on the night. But since the Cats are light on pitching until Sunday when their roster should be in full swing, he then threw two innings of three-hit shutout ball to also notch the save.
The Northeastern University sophomore threw 17 innings for the Huskies this year. So Holcomb told Foster if the Cats had the lead, he could pitch.
“If he felt comfortable we were going to give him the ball with the lead to let him close the game out,” Holcomb said. “He came to us in the seventh inning and said ‘coach I’ve got two innings in me. I want the ball’.”
Starting pitcher Chris Kerwood gave up the first of four runs to Willmar in the third, when Steven Brault sent a solo shot to right-centre field.. Back-to-back singles in the fourth put Max Kuhn and Zack Tillery on for JD Dorgan’s two-RBI double to left field. He later scored on a Jake Gronsky single that ended Kerwood’s day and brought out Cameron Wood, who ultimately picked up the win for the Cats.
From then on it was all Border Cats on both sides of the ball.
Despite the slow start, Foster said the team had been hitting this season. But on Saturday they really started stringing them together.
Jason Vosler’s two-out two-RBI double, his second on a 4-for-5 night, gave the Cats the lead for good in the bottom of the sixth after a broken-bat single from Foster and a Dylan Becker walk.
“You really just gotta get the momentum going,” Foster said.
The Cats look to keep the hits coming as they face Willmar again Sunday. Game time is 5:05 p.m.
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