Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart
June 23, 2017, Victoria, BC – The Walla Walla Sweets scored six runs off three different Victoria relievers to come away with a 6-4 win over the HarbourCats in West Coast League (WCL) action Friday night at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria.
The Sweets win spoils what was a fine start by HarbourCats pitcher Jack Owen, who worked efficiently through the first five innings, giving up no runs and just two hits, while walking three and striking out five.
The ‘Cats went to reliever Blake Hannah to begin the sixth and he promptly hit leadoff hitter Ryan Johnson to begin the inning. Johnson would then move to third on a one-out single from Nick Nyquist and then come in to score on a sacrifice fly from Jake Suddleson to give the Sweets a 1-0 lead.
Walla Walla would strike for two more in the top of the seventh to move ahead 3-0, this time off reliever Indigo Diaz, who in addition to giving up one run on a wild pitch, would also surrender an RBI triple to Danny Sinatro.
Meanwhile, Owen’s counterpart for the Sweets, Tim Josten – who went the first four innings – and reliever Cameron Deere, were also doing their part for the Sweets, holding the ‘Cats scoreless through the first six innings until Victoria’s Jake Garella finally put Victoria on the board with a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh. Also in that inning, Kevin Collard would single home DJ Porter to move the ‘Cats to within one at 3-2.
Victoria had a prime opportunity to put more on the board in that frame when slugger Davis Wendzel came to the plate with runners on first and third and two outs. Wendzel, who last night put a ball over the mesh on to Pembroke Street, never got the opportunity to do any damage however, as he had the bat taken out of his hands when the ‘Cats attempted a double steal, with Cole Weiss being thrown out after a run down between home and third.
Walla Walla would then jump on that missed opportunity to score three more runs off Diaz in the top of the eighth, with the biggest blast being a two-run home run to centerfield from Suddleson. Sinatro would then add an RBI-single off reliever Travis Kuhn to up the score to 6-2.
As baseball luck would have it, Wendzel of course, led off the bottom of the eighth with a hit, a double down the left field line, and then came in to score two-outs later on Garella’s second home run of the night, giving the HarbourCats some hope.
That would be as close as Victoria would come however, as Sweets closer Patrick Stanton worked a 1-2-3 ninth to close out the 6-4 Walla Walla win.
The win keeps the now 9-7 Sweets in the hunt for the North Division title, one game back of Bellingham, who defeated Corvallis 8-2 Friday. The HarbourCats now 9-11, and having lost three in a row, fall three games back of Bellingham and with just seven games left to play in the first half schedule, need to put together some wins and hope for lots of help from other teams to have a shot at the first half title.
The teams play game two of their series on Saturday night at Royal Athletic Park, with a 6:35 game start. Prior to that, between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm, fans can come to the park and participate in what is being billed as the world’s largest scrub baseball game, giving everyone and anyone a chance to play on the same field that the HarbourCats play on.
Cat Scratches: Victoria second baseman Nick Moroney took a nasty hop off the face during infield practice earlier in the day, but still started the game at second, with just a small cut above his lip. Catcher Kekai Rios, an early fan favourite, has had to leave the team and head back to the University of Hawaii for academic reasons. Hunter Vansau arrived from Mississippi State at game time tonight and will wear Rios’ #21.