Above: Men Without Hats front-man Ivan Doroschuk belts out the anthems in front of the Upper Deck experience and 3000 fans at the HarbourCats opener (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
Story by Josh Kozelj
Photos by Christian J. Stewart
June 1, 2018, Victoria, BC – The Victoria HarbourCats and Wenatchee AppleSox kicked off the 2018 West Coast League regular season Friday night with a low-scoring pitchers duel and 2-1 AppleSox victory at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park.
The close to 3,000 fans in attendance were ushered into the new season with pre-game festivities including a skydiving performance, the national anthems sung by Men Without Hats frontman Ivan Doruschuk, and Sheldon Mack – injured in the tragic Las Vegas shooting late last year – throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. HarbourCat players also donned Humboldt Bronco hats, in honour of the tragic bus accident that saw 16 players and team staff lose their lives earlier this spring.
The home opener also allowed for fans to break in the new additions to Wilson’s Group Stadium — Pivetta’s Pen, the Strathcona Hotel Rooftop Party Deck and the Wilson’s Group Upper Deck Experience double decker bus along the first base side of the concourse. Even General Manager Brad Norris-Jones hopped into the action, receiving a haircut courtesy of Status Hair Salon in the early stages of the game.
As for the action on the field, for the second consecutive season, Campbell River native Ethan Fox got the ball for Head Coach Brian McRae’s HarbourCats on Opening Night, while the AppleSox countered with a Wenatchee resident and homegrown talent of their own in Grady Miller.
Fox got into some trouble in the top of 2nd inning, loading the bases with three consectuctive walks and no outs. However, the Southpaw avoided trouble, striking out Joey Magro and inducing a 5-2-3 double play to escape the ‘Sox threat.
Fox’s luck ran out in the top of the 4th when Wenatchee infielder Mason Marenco got the scoring started for the AppleSox with a double to left-center field, scoring Cory Meyer who walked to start the inning. After giving up another single, Marenco stole home doubling the AppleSox lead to 2-0.
That was all McRae needed to see, as he pulled Fox for Clark Streby from St. Martins university. Fox finished with three strikeouts, four hits, and four walks over 3.2 innings.
The pitchers duel strecthed into the latter stages of the ballgame, as Streby held the AppleSox scorless through three and a third, before right-hander Jacob Potter of Allen Community College entered the game for the HarbourCats.
Behind some quality pitching from Miller, along with relievers Hunter Boyd and Karver Pate, the AppleSox held ‘Cats hitters to four hits total.
Victoria was able to rally in the bottom half of the eighth as the ‘Cats loaded the bases, and infielder Chang-Chi Yeh grounded into a fielder’s choice to trim the AppleSox lead to one. However, the rallied ended there, as Pate got Jack Smith to strikeout to end the inning.
The two teams will renew hostilites tomorrow night at Wilson’s Group Stadium, as Garrett Goodall will make his first start of the season against Wenatchee’s Curtis Bafus. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m., with a fireworks display taking place at the conclusion of the game.
Tickets are still available for Saturday night’s always popular fireworks game. Call the office between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm to inquire about tickets and availability.