Go beyond the fence with everything HarbourCats baseball in this column from Summer Intern Josh Kozelj.
Weekly Recap: June 11-18
Season Record: 6-6
Week Record: 3-3
Position Player Highlight of the Week: June 12 @ Kelowna — CF Nate Pecota (William Jewell) – 4 runs, 3 hits, 6 RBI, including a grand slam home run.
Pitcher Highlight of the Week: June 14 @ Kelowna and June 16 vs. Port Angeles — RHP Tyler Yoshihara (Pomona-Pitzer) – 3.1 innings pitched, 4 strikeouts, two walks, and collected his first win and save of the season.
Hopefully you enjoyed the first volume of Beyond the Fence, and I hope you all had a fantastic Father’s Day weekend! Here’s all you need to know about the Victoria HarbourCats latest week on the diamond.
Grounding the Falcons:
In the first series of the week, the HarbourCats travelled to B.C.’s interior to take on the Kelowna Falcons in a three-game midweek series.
In game one, despite the score showing a 13-7 blowout win for the Boys of Summer from Vancouver Island, the game was hotly contested. Victoria had to come from behind twice to send the game to extra innings, and an the 10th frame the HarbourCats managed to send 11 batters to the plate to score 6 runs and ensure they would claim the victory.
The second game of the series was highlighted by Falcons pitcher Jared Akin, who fired 8 innings of one-run ball, to hold a HarbourCat team that scored 13 runs the night prior to just one in a 7-1 Kelowna victory.
The ‘Cats managed to claw and escape their way out of the Orchard City with a 4-3 victory in the series rubber-match. The HarbourCats blew an early 3-0 lead, but managed to hang on thanks to late-inning dramatics from Jeddediah Fagg. Heading into the top of the eight, Fagg belted his first home run of the season, to preserve the visitors with their second consecutive series victory after taking two of three from Yakima Valley last week.
Running into the Long-Ball Lefties:
A visit from the neighbours across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Port Angeles Lefties, proved to be a daunting task for HarbourCats pitching in a Father’s Day Weekend series.
Port Angeles came into game one having lost four consecutive games, however their slugging bats came out in full force at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park. Behind 15 hits, and two-home runs from Matt Christian, the Lefties snapped that streak with a 10-4 victory.
In the second game of the Battle for the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Victoria used a five-run sixth inning to propel themselves to a 6-5 win. Jack Smith got the pivotal sixth started with a RBI triple, and the HarbourCat batters would capitalize on two Port Angeles errors in the inning to ensure a rubber-match game would take place.
On a picture-perfect day for baseball, blue skies and no clouds in sight, fans were treated to a back and forth game in the Father’s Day matinee. With temperatures nearing thirty degrees Celsius on the field, the Lefties used the long-ball once again to jump out to an early 3-0 lead. Victoria would scrap and claw their way to gain a 7-4 edge heading into the ninth, but failed to hold onto the victory as the Port Angeles once again used a three-run home run to take the series with a 8-7 win.
Trouble with the Home Run:
HarbourCat pitching gave up seven home runs in their three-game series vs. Port Angeles, and will look to keep the ball in the yard for their next series against the Elks in Bend.
After a stellar 6 RBI game last week in Kelowna, Nate Pecota was forced to be placed on Injured Reserved with a nagging lower-body injury.
Michael Stovman, making his third start of the season on June 17, left the game in the fourth inning with a forearm injury.
On Sunday, the Victoria HarbourCats eclipsed the 300,000 attendance barrier at Wilson’s Group Stadium. Since their inception six years ago, over 300,000 fans have flocked to Victoria to watch either a WCL regular season, pre-season, or non-league game.
Pennant Race Heating Up:
As the month of June starts to dwindle down, it means the first-half pennant race is starting to heat up.
Since the West Coast League is essentially broken down into two seasons, a first and second half, it means as the calendar approaches July teams will start to jockey for playoff positioning.
The 54 game schedule is broken down into two 27 game halves, with teams that sit in first place in the North and South division after the first 27 games clinch a playoff spot, called the First Half division pennant winners.
Then the teams will reset their record at 0-0 for the second 27 games, and the two atop the division at the end of the second set of 27 games will own the Second Half division titles and spots in the WCL playoffs.
The HarbourCats hopped on the bus after a disappointing failed comeback attempt vs. the Lefties on Sunday to open a three-game series against the Bend Elks in central Oregon.
As of June 18, the Elks (3-12) sit in last place in both the South division and overall West Coast League standings, and Victoria will look to collect much needed wins to edge closer to first place in the WCL North division.
Since, after an off-day on Thursday, the ‘Cats will host a crucial weekend series vs. North division leading Bellingham Bells (10-5). The home series could play a vital role in deciding who will take home the first half division pennant, as entering today’s games the ‘Cats sit 2.5 games of the first-place Bells.
That’s all for now! Enjoy your week Victoria, and come out to support your HarbourCats in a crucial series vs. Bellingham next weekend! For tickets visit our office located at 1814 Vancouver Street, call us at 778-265-0327, or purchase tickets online.