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Home opener delight: Thorold Anchors edge out St. Catharines Cobras in nail-biting finish

'It was great to see the support of the local fans,' said team manager Aaron McInnis

The Thorold Anchors had fans on the edge of their seats until the final play of the seventh inning.

The Anchors played their home-opener – and second game of the season – at McMillan Park, on Tuesday May 21, against the St. Catharines Cobras. 

Thorold dropped their first game, played on the road against the Welland Pioneers, with a score of 9-7, so the pressure was on.

Luke Edwards, entering his 14th season with the Anchors, was the starting pitcher for Thorold. Tyler Wilson was the starting pitcher for the Cobras. 

Both teams played well defensively, keeping each other off the board until the sixth inning, including a well-timed strike-out by Edwards in the fourth inning while the Cobras had two runners on base. 

Pitching changes saw Ben Dobrowolski replace Edwards at the top of the fifth inning. The Cobras had made a change one inning early, swapping in Ryan Villers.  

The bats on both teams came alive during the sixth inning. St. Catharines was able to take an early lead, getting up 1-0, but Thorold answered back. 

The Anchors seemed to change their focus up a bit, and were able to get players on base. A single was followed by a bunt and then a sacrificial bunt. Thorold's Tony Brown drove in the tying run. 

The Anchors were able to load the bases with only a single out. Drew Timlock hit a double when sent two runners home, making the score 3-1 for Thorold. A sacrificial fly-out added one more to take it 4-1. 

The seventh inning saw the Cobras strike back, scoring one run before Xavier Whittle crushed a home-run, re-taking the lead for St. Catharines. 

Things looked bleak but the Anchors did not give up. Thorold catcher Nick Schwab scored the winning run, able to make it home, part of a two-run rally capped by Brown reaching first base on a dropped third strike. 

Thorold Anchors manager Aaron McInnis said he was really happy with the way his team played. 

“The important thing is, right from the first pitch to the last pitch they played baseball and they never showed any quit,” he told ThoroldToday

McInnis said it was good to get a game like that, with a walk-off, to be able to build momentum.

“Last time you were on the field you had a walk-off and you try to carry it into the next game and keep the momentum up.” 

The manager said the team is in a “good place” to start the season. 

“We feel good about our pitching staff, our offence has a lot of options. We have a strong bench. We have a young core, we used to have what you might call too young of a core with a lot of a learning curve, but our young guys have really stepped up,” said McInnis. 

“We are not going through that learning curve anymore and we are getting to the baseball park each night ready to win,” he added. 

He also thanked the fans and supporters who came out, saying there were 120 people by his count. 

“It was great to see the support of the local fans,” he said. “Make no mistake about it. That is what carries out energy right through, that we were able to come back in the last inning because we wanted to send those fans home happy because that's who we play for.”