Nick Plaia and Harrison Spohn were all smiles before the regular season finale against the Port Angeles Lefties. Spohn was later rewarded with the 2019 HarbourCats Community award, and Plaia had his number 23 inducted into Victoria’s ring of honour in the pregame festivities. (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)
Story by Josh Kozelj
Photos by Christian J. Stewart
VICTORIA — The Victoria HarbourCats (21-6/39-15) capped off a record breaking regular season with their eight straight win, as Zach Swanson racked up five strikeouts in five innings to knock off the Port Angeles Lefties 6-0 Sunday afternoon at Wilson’s Group stadium.
With the victory, the HarbourCats fell one win short of their all-time franchise record of 40 wins—set back in 2016—but still managed to set four other records in the final weekend of the WCL regular season.
Victoria scored 21 runs in the series opener to become the first WCL team to score more than 400 runs in a single season, and hit six home runs last night to bring their home run total to 53 on the season—breaking another league record. The ‘Cats also became the third team in WCL history to lead the league in five separate offence categories, and Nick Plaia broke the HarbourCats stolen base record yesterday with his 35th career steal.
In today’s matinee, Victoria put nine hits on the board to bring their season total to 581—shattering the WCL’s previous all time record of 578.
The HarbourCats also came close to setting another record this year, falling just under 200 people shy of setting a new WCL attendance record. Victoria needed 2,457 fans to break last year’s record of 62,599, however, drew 2,258 fans today to finish with 62,400 on the season, 199 away from setting their third league record of the weekend.
On the mound Swanson, making his first start since winning a non-league game in July, pitched a 1-2-3 first inning and retired the first seven Lefties to begin the game. Port Angeles didn’t get their first base runner until the third when Brandon Siowaka walked with out out, however, Swanson struck out Carsen Jackson and induced a Gavin Rork groundout to keep Port Angeles scoreless.
Meanwhile, the HarbourCats record-breaking offence went to work right away in the first.
After being inducted into the HarbourCats ring of honour before the game, Nick Plaia hustled out an infield single to begin the home half of the first. One batter later Plaia extended his career stolen base record to 36 after swiping second with one out, and scored on a Harrison Spohn fielder’s choice to open the scoring for Victoria.
The ‘Cats scored in the first inning of every game this series.
Griffin Paxton, who was named the 2019 HarbourCats Player of the Year before the game, also drew a walk in the inning and advanced to third, but was gunned out at the plate on a double steal with Spohn to end the inning.
In the fourth, Swanson got two quick outs to start the frame, but Port Angeles looked to find some offence against the righty from San Diego Christian the third time through the order.
After Brad Altomarie walked, and Tommy Takayoshi and Riley Quintin hit back to back singles to load the bases, Swanson got Dylan Cyr to line out to his San Diego Christian teammate Ty Schindel in left to end the threat.
In the home half of the inning, the HarbourCats doubled their lead to two as Kyle Sherick scored on an error by Altomarie at second, and busted the game open with a three-run fifth one inning later.
Paxton notched his 31st RBI of the season with a sac-fly to score Fynn Chester pinch running for Nick Plaia, and after Tyson Hays singled to reach, Spohn hit a line drive home run to bring Victoria’s lead to five. The homer was Spohn’s second in as many days, and Victoria’s 11th of the series.
The ‘Cats added another insurance run in the sixth, and a trio of HarbourCats out of the bullpen kept Port Angeles scoreless.
Victoria will now enjoy an off day tomorrow before beginning game one of the WCL Divisional playoff round Tuesday evening in Wenatchee. Game two of the series will take place Wednesday night at Wilson’s Group Stadium, first pitch is scheduled for 6:35pm.
PLAYOFF TICKETS: Get your playoff tickets at the HarbourCats offices at 1814 Vancouver Street Monday-Tuesday from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM and Wednesday from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Or call the office during those hours at 778-265-0327. Box Office at the park opens Wednesday at 5:30 PM. Or avoid the hassle and order on line at: https://www.ticketrocket.co/event/details/108712/victoria-harbourcats-vs-tba