Paul Thomas Sr. Field in Wenatchee. (Photo: applesox.com)
WHERE: Paul Thomas Sr. Stadium, Wenatchee, WA
WHEN: June 4-6, start times all at 6:35 p.m.
LISTEN LIVE: 93.9 KCSY Sunny FM
HISTORY: Wenatchee leads all-time series 19-14
Wenatchee: 26-28, fourth in North division, missed playoffs.
Victoria: 27- 27, third in North division, missed playoffs.
Vancouver Island Baseball fans rejoice, and take in the smell of fresh cut grass, Opening Day is here. The Victoria HarbourCats kick off the 2019 West Coast League regular season tonight against North division rivals, the Wenatchee AppleSox for a three game set in southern Washington State.
Singing joining the West Coast League in 2013, the AppleSox have proven to be a tough test and fierce rival for the ‘Cats—having taken the head to head season series in four of the past six seasons. Last year, the AppleSox took five of six games from Victoria, including a late season series sweep in August that all but eliminated the HarbourCats playoff hopes.
The Home Team:
They accomplished a WCL record 40-win season in 2016, came one victory away from a championship in 2017, and fell one win short of reaching the playoffs for a third consecutive year in 2018, and now the HarbourCats are eager to build upon their summer success in 2019.
Fan favourite, and 2019 Player of the Year, Nick Plaia is set to return to the Island later this summer, and will be joined by two other of his 2018 HarbourCat teammates Tanner Haney and Garrett Goodall.
Victoria finished a 27-27 record last season, and fell a single win shy of the playoffs in a heartbreaking 10-3 season finale loss to the Portland Pickles.
New Head Coach Todd Haney — a former Major Leaguer who played parts of five seasons in the MLB with the Montreal Expos, New York Mets, and Chicago Cubs in the mid-1990’s—will take over the managerial role for the HarbourCats in 2019, and will rely on a mix of returnees and new faces in his first season at the helm.
Players to Watch:
(IF) Nick Plaia- The 2018 Player of the Year makes his return to the Island this summer, where he looks to place a banner in the rafters of Wilson’s Group Stadium. Plaia collected 37 hits in 37 games with the HarbourCats last season, and has racked up 35 hits and 18 RBI’s at California Baptist in his Junior season.
(RHP) Garrett Goodall- Goodall makes his return to Victoria in 2019, after a strong 2018 campaign that saw the Nanaimo product collect two wins and a team high 33 strikeouts in 10 appearances on the mound. Goodall was selected as a WCL all-star last season, and was recently named to the first-team All-Conference for his Embry-Riddle University team this spring.
(RHP) Cade Smith- Joining Goodall atop the HarbourCats rotation is another B.C. boy, Cade Smith from Abbotsford. Smith was a 17thround draft choice by the Minnesota Twins out of high school in 2017, but opted instead to take a scholarship at the University of Hawaii—where he boasted a 2-2 record and 4.53 ERA this season.
The AppleSox took a step back in 2018 from a solid 29-25 campaign in 2017, finishing with a sub-.500 record of 26-28 and saw their playoff drought stretch to five years. The AppleSox haven’t made the playoffs since 2013, when they won the WCL North division title.
However, established in 1999 as a member of the old Pacific International League and celebrating their 20th anniversary this season, the AppleSox have usually been in a force since becoming a charter member of the WCL in 2005—collecting five League titles and seven division titles in that span.
The AppleSox come into their regular season opener on a winning tune after defeating the Cascade Collegiate League Showcase team 10-1 at Paul Thomas Sr. Field last night, as Wenatchee 2019 returnee Jonny Sage led the way with four RBI’s and a home run in the exhibition contest.
In their two decade history, the AppleSox boast notable MLB alumni, including pitchers Jason Hammel, Tommy Malone, and outfielder Cole Gilespie.
Wenatchee’s 2019 roster includes players from 21 different post-secondary institutions, and another Abbotsford native in their lineup, as Sacramento State’s Dylan Ohlsen will wear the AppleSox red this summer.
Manager Kyle Krustangel will return for his third season as Head Coach for the AppleSox, as they look to advance to the playoffs for the first time since 2013.