Dan Holcomb said he needed starter Chad Mayle to go deep on Monday night.
His bullpen worn out and beaten up after a couple of rough – though victorious – outings, the Thunder Bay Border Cats manager couldn’t afford to turn to his relief corps in great numbers as the Mankato Moon Dogs hit Subway Field.
Mayle delivered and then some, surrendering just two hits and two runs through seven innings before giving way to Daniel Stoney in the eighth.
Stoney held the Dogs at bay just long enough for Jason Vosler to play the hero card, singling home Tyler Stetson with the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the 10th, securing a 3-2 Thunder Bay win, the Cats third straight victory.
“I felt pretty good,” said Mayle, signed to a temporary contract and hoping to show enough in his trial period to earn a permanent spot on the Border Cats roster.
“My first outing I struggled a little bit, I was a little rusty, so I kept messing up. So I tried to … get ground balls, get contact early in the count, so I could go a little deeper.”
Holcomb said he couldn’t have written a better script, knowing much-needed pitching help is on its way.
“Chad was fantastic tonight. You look, he gave up a run in the fourth and then shut him down all the way to the seventh. That’s exactly what we needed. Our bullpen was hurting a little bit and only being able to use two pitchers today, Chad gave us everything we needed and really saved our pitching staff.”
Mankato starter Rob Cerfolio was equally great for the Moon Dogs, tossing a no-hitter into the fifth, when Tyler Duplantis singled with one out.
Catcher Dylan Goodwin followed with another single, and Duplantis took third on a Tyler Stetson grounder, coming home on Cory Kay’s infield single up the middle to tie the game 1-1.
Mayle said his rival’s outing was an inspiration to his own game.
“It’s almost a good thing. It keeps you focused and you have to go out there and hang a bagel. I think that works as a benefit,” said Mayle, who gave up a solo shot to Chase Simpson in the fourth, the first run of the contest.
In the sixth he loaded the bases with one out, but induced a 4-6-3 double play from Jonathan Rodriguez to preserve the tie.
The Cats took advantage in their half of the inning, hot-hitting Michael Foster doubling and later scoring on a Ryan Casillas sacrifice fly.
The Moon Dogs evened the score in the seventh, a Casillas error on a Tim Lynch grounder allowing Zach Zehner to score from second.
Mankato threatened in the 10th, with runners on first and second with two outs, but Stoney, who earned the win for Thunder Bay, struck out Zach Zeiner to end the threat.
With one out in the Cats half of the inning, Stetson legged out a bunt single then took second on a wild pitch. Dogs reliever Jesse Harbin, who took over in the ninth, intentionally walked Cory Kay, and after striking out Dylan Becker, issued a free pass to Foster, who came into the game hitting .700.
Vosler, 0-for-4 until that point, laced an 0-1 pitch into right field for the winner.
“I got a good pitch to hit, got a hit and it was game over,” Vosler said.
The Cats and Dogs wrap up their two-game set Tuesday with a matinee affair. The first pitch is scheduled for 11:05 a.m.
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