Go beyond the fence with everything HarbourCats baseball in this column from Summer Intern Josh Kozelj. 

Weekly Recap: August 6 – August 13

Season Record: 13-14 (Second Half) / 27-27 (Overall)

Week Record: 2-1

Welcome Back (for the final time this year):

Happy Monday HarbourCats fans! Thank you for all your support this year, despite the HarbourCats failing to make the postseason for the third straight year, I truly feel grateful to have been in this position to write Beyond the Fence and game recaps. It’s been an unforgettable summer, and I’ve learned so much.

For an introvert like me, it’s hard for me to come out of my shell and connect with a new group of people. But the 2018 HarbourCats team was one where I felt immensely comfortable being myself, sure there were the typical puns and jabs here and there, yet every time I walked up to the stadium I felt lucky to consider this my job.

Thanks, Jim, Chris, Dan, Jason, Dave, Andy, Andres, for being there every step of the way, and doing the hard work behind the scenes to give you the best possible experience at the ballpark.

On with the final Beyond the Fence of the year.

Players of the Week:

NOTE: All stats for players of the week are collected from games played during August 6 – August 13 against Portland Pickles. 

Position Player of the Week: IRyan Ober (Oregon State) – Amassing five hits and three RBIs in the three game set against Portland, Ober was a force at the dish. The Oregon State products week was highlighted by the series middle game, where he racked up three hits, two RBI, and a walk in a 13-6 Victoria win. Ober finished with 17 RBI and three homers on the season after coming to the Island midway through the year from Oregon State.

Pitcher of the Week: RHP Gunnar Friend (Avila University) — In his third victory of the season, Friend tossed six brilliant innings on the mound to lead the HarbourCats to their series opening victory against Portland. The righty would only give up three hits in the outing, dropping his final season ERA to 1.53.

Dicing up the Pickles: 

Needing a series sweep over the Portland Pickles, and some help from other teams to clinch their third straight playoff appearance, everything fell into place for Victoria setting up a ‘win and in’ game in the finale.

Stay with me here.

Since the Yakima Valley Pippins dropped two straight to the Corvallis Knights, along with Kelowna and Wenatchee splitting the first two games of their series, it opened the door for Victoria to sneak into the postseason. The Bellingham Bells clinched the Second Half North title, and since they already won the First Half pennant as well, the last playoff spot would then go to the team with the next best overall record. The HarbourCats were in a tie with Kelowna at identical 27-26 records, and since Victoria owned the tiebreaker over Kelowna, they held their own destiny. 

Behind the right arm of Gunnar Friend in game one, the HarbourCats struck early and often as Friend stymied the Pickles in a six-inning shutout. Ober smacked a RBI single in the first, while Rowdey Jordan’s two-run triple in the fourth was all the offence needed. The righty on the mound would only yield three hits and collect three strikeouts, while Tyler Yoshihara would come on in the ninth to preserve the 4-2 win.

The HarbourCats then used a pair of early inning blasts to clinch the series in a decisive 13-6 victory in game two. Portland would draw first blood by plating a pair in the first, but Jaxxon Fagg would respond with a homer to jump Victoria ahead by a run, while Hunter Vansau smacked a grand slam over the fence to make it a 7-3 game. Yoshihara would be summoned again to hold the lead in the, and the 2018 All-Star would do just that, retiring the side in order to set up the do or die finale.

With their playoff destiny having in the balance, the HarbourCats couldn’t stop the suddenly potential Pickles offence. Portland, who scored a combined eight runs in the opening two games, would score eight times in the first four innings to spoil Victoria’s playoff hopes. Starting pitcher Ethan Fox struggled to settle into a rhythm, allowing seven hits and six runs in three innings on the hill, as the HarbourCats found themselves trailing all game. Pickles reliever Michael Frias pitcher six innings of one-hit ball in relief, and propelled Portland to a 10-3 win.

Final record: 

The HarbourCats finished with an impressive 15-11 record at home this year, but struggled to a 12-15 record away from Wilson’s Group Stadium on the season.

Award Winners:

Garrett Goodall and Tyler Yoshihara were both named co-pitchers of the year, while Nick Plaia was named player of the year. Hayden Jaco also reviewed the Community Service award.

Vansau jersey retirement:

Franchise home run leader Hunter Vansau’s number 21 was lifted to the rafters of Wilson’s Group Stadium prior the season finale against Portland, no HarbourCat player will be able to wear number 21 in the future.

On Deck: 

The HarbourCats will now prepare to host the 2018 Baseball Canada mens national championships later in August, for tickets visit our office located at 1814 Vancouver Street, or call us at 778-265-0327.

Thank you again for a great season, and I hope to see you next year!

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