Trevor Paro throws his hands up in celebration from third base after hitting a triple in the first inning of tonight’s game against Bend. (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)
Story by Josh Kozelj
Photos by Christian J. Stewart
VICTORIA — On a blustery night at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park, the Victoria HarbourCats (8-5) fended off the Bend Elks 17-7 to rack up their sixth win in the past eight games.
Coupled with a Bellingham Bells loss in Corvallis earlier in the evening, the HarbourCats vaulted into a tie for first place in the North division. Both Victoria and Bellingham have identical 8-5 records, and will meet for the first time to cap off the First Half schedule on July 5.
If the HarbourCats find themselves atop the North following the competition of the first 27 WCL games of the season, Victoria will clinch a postseason spot for the first time since 2017.
In tonight’s game, starting pitcher Aaron Celestino retired three of four Elks in the top of the first, and the HarbourCats bats provided their starter with plenty of run support in the home half of the inning.
Parker Bramlett led the game off with a single off Bend starter Tyler Worrell, and the right hander would hit Jason Willow in the next at bat and yield the second single of the inning to Chase Wehsener that loaded the bases.
Frankie Niemann drew a walk one batter later to give Victoria their first run of the game, and Matt Turner knocked in his first two RBI’s as a HarbourCat immediately after to put the ‘Cats up by three.
Still failing to record an out in the inning, Worrell balked to score Turner from third and gave up a triple to Nick Plaia to make it a 5-0 game. Worell finally got the first out when Tyler Petitt grounded into a fielder’s choice, but it didn’t come without some more first inning damage, as Plaia hustled in to score from third to cap off the six-run frame.
However, Bend started to make a furious comeback in the second, led by outfielder Justin Parsons. The Bend, OR native hit the Elks first home run of the WCL season with a solo shot in the second, and after Chase Fernlund smacked in two more runs with a homer of his own in the third, Parsons came back up to the plate and hit his second home run in as many innings—a three-run bomb that evened the game at 6.
After blowing a five run lead in the top half of the third, though, Victoria responded with a vengeance in the home half, scoring five times — highlighted by a pair of RBI singles from Niemann and Plaia — to restore the five run lead.
Wehsener continued his hot streak at the dish one inning later in the fourth, blowing the game open with his third hit and RBI on the night to make it a 13-6 game. Wehsener now has five hits and five RBI’s in his first two games since joining the HarbourCats from Baylor University yesterday.
Victoria added two more runs in the fourth, and used four different relievers to hold the Elks to just one run after the third.
The HarbourCats will go for the sweep tomorrow, and send Dillon Larsen to the bump to counter Lambrick Park high school alum Brendan Turcotte pitching for the Elks. First pitched is slated for 11:00a.m. in the annual School Spirit day game.