Story by Josh Kozelj
PORT ANGELES, WA — Needing to string some wins together in the second half for their third consecutive playoff appearance, the Victoria HarbourCats were well on their way a third straight win before a five run sixth inning proved to be the downfall against the Port Angeles Lefties at Civic Field.
Fresh off taking two of three from the reigning back to back WCL champion Corvallis Knights at Wilson’s Group Stadium, the HarbourCats hopped on the ferry for a date with their rivals from across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
The Lefties came into the matchup having lost eight in a row, and early on it looked like the visitors from Vancouver Island would extend that streak to ten.
Against Lefties starter Baxter Halligan, who was having trouble with his command, Victoria would send seven batters to the plate in a three-run first inning.
Halligan managed to get the first out of the game, but put two men on behind an error from his defence in the field and a one out walk to Mike Malinchak
Jeddediah Fagg, a 2018 WCL All-Star who represented the North Division in the All-Star Game just last week, got the scoring started with a RBI single to score AJ Lewis who advanced earlier from an error in the field.
In the next at-bat, Nick Plaia tripled the lead to three with a RBI single of his own. Halligan would yield two walks and a hit in the shaky first.
After Rowdey Jordan hit a solo shot in the second to make it a 4-0 game, Port Angeles started to slowly gain momentum for a comeback.
The Lefties responded with a run in the home half of the second, and then with two more in the fourth to chase HarbourCats starting pitcher Ethan Fox.
Fox would still end up with four strikeouts to only two earned runs in the no-decision.
Coming up again in the fifth, Fagg continued his hot day at the plate recording his second of three hits on the night, and scored three batters later off an error from Halligan.
However, despite leading 5-3 heading into the sixth, things would start to unravel for Victoria.
Ping-Chun Ho pitching in relief managed to get the first two outs of the sixth back to back, but proceeded to give up two singles and a walk to load the bases.
The Lefties scored first with a balk from Ho, and Jason Dicochea capitalized with a two-run single, before Austin Earl capped off the frame with a two-run homer to give Port Angeles a 7-5 advantage.
Victoria could never respond after the five-run sixth, mustering up only one hit for the remainder of the game to drop the series opener in Port Angeles.
In the season series, dubbed as the Battle for the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Lefties have taken three of four overall from Victoria including an early season series victory at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park.
With the loss, the HarbourCats dropped five games behind the 11-2 Yakima Valley Pippins in the North division standings, and will look to edge closer to the division leaders in a Sunday afternoon matinee in Port Angeles.