Riding a three-game losing streak, the Brainerd Lakes Area Lunkers sent Dennis O'Grady to the mound in the second game of a two-game home set against the Thunder Bay Border Cats Wednesday night.
He didn't disappoint the Mills Field crowd as O'Grady pitched eight innings of shutout baseball, lowered his ERA to a league-leading 0.30 and earned his second win of the season.
O'Grady has tried to work with the same formula the last two games and it has served him well.
"I'm just locating my fastball in and out and early in the game today I really wasn't locating it well," he said. "As the game went on I got a feel for my pitches so it has been pretty much the same thing for both games."
O'Grady came into the game having pitched a one-hit shutout in his last outing. The right-hander from Duke now has a 17-inning scoreless streak going. In Wednesday night's game he walked just one Border Cat batter while striking out nine.
Offensively, Hunter Nolen's double in the bottom of the seventh drove in two runs and gave O'Grady a 4-0 cushion. The Lunkers went on to end the losing streak and moved over .500 again at 13-12 while sending the Border Cats to their 21st loss of the season.
Thunder Bay threatened with a leadoff double by center fielder Cameron Smith in the top of the third. But O'Grady got the next three batters to get out of the inning.
In the bottom of the third, the Lunkers pushed a run across when Andrew Gudmunson knocked in his ninth run of the season on an infield single that scored Shon Roe.
Brainerd upped its lead to 2-0 in the fourth with Roe getting an infield hit down the third base line to score David Valesente, who led off the inning with a double.
O'Grady sailed through the middle three innings, allowing no runs while striking out five.
Lunkers 5, Thunder Bay 0
The key: Dennis O'Grady pitched eight shutout innings to run his scoreless streak to 17 innings.
Records: Brd 13-12, TB 5-21
Next: Brainerd at Green Bay 6:35 p.m. Thursday.
The Lunkers had a chance to increase their lead in the bottom of the sixth, but T.J. Berge lined out to the left fielder to end the threat with runners on second and third.
Hunter Nolen gave O'Grady a four-run cushion with a one-out double to left that scored Michael Kvasnicka and Valesente. The Lunkers then plated a fifth run in the eighth.
Drew Smith came in to pitch the top of the ninth inning and lowered his ERA to 1.82 with a 1-2-3 ninth.
O'Grady understood the call to the bullpen for the ninth inning and knew the game was in good hands with Smith pitching.
"My pitch count was getting high, and it was high the last outing too," he said. "It was probably the smarter choice to get Drew in there and he shuts them down every time he's in there so we knew we had the game."
Thunder Bay 000 000 000 - 0 3 4
Brainerd 001 100 20x - 5 9 2
Thunder Bay: Garrett Young, A.J. Schugel (6) and Aaron Munoz.
Brainerd: Dennis O'Grady, Drew Smith (9) and Hunter Nolen.
WP: O'Grady (2-0). LP: Young (0-1).
2B: Brd, David Valesente, Hunter Nolen, TB Cameron Smith.
SF: Brd Gudmunson
RBIs: Brd Andrew Gudmunson, Shon Roe, Nolen (2)
LOB: Brd 13, TB 6
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