Kyle Harper watches his two-run homer sail over the fence in the first inning to give Victoria a 2-1 lead. Despite only playing five games this season, Harper is second on the HarbourCats in home runs with three. (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)
Story by Josh Kozelj
Photos by Christian J. Stewart
VICTORIA — Jason Willow’s RBI single in the eighth helped the Victoria HarbourCats (1-1/19-10) hold off the Ridgefield Raptors 3-2, and even the series at one game apiece on a soggy Tuesday evening at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park.
One night after flying out as a pinch-hitter down by a run in the ninth against Ridgefield, Willow redeemed himself with a clutch game-winning RBI single in the eighth that gave Victoria a 3-2 victory and first win of the Second Half Schedule.
With the win, the HarbourCats also earned their first ever win over the expansion Ridgefield Raptors, who joined the West Coast League this season.
It was Kyle Harper, though, who stole the show early and flashed his power with a dazzling home run in the first.
After Brody Barnum gave Ridgefield the lead in the top half with a sacrifice fly, Harper launched a two-run bomb over the fence in left to give Victoria a 2-1 lead.
The homer gave Harper, who has been limited to just five games due to injury this summer, his third home run of the season. The Baylor University product has 7 RBI in five games, and sits second on the team lead in home runs.
On the mound, meanwhile, Dakota Hawkins made his first start of the year and continued the recent stretch of dominance from HarbourCat pitching.
Jack Hyde carried a no-hitter into the sixth on Saturday, and while Jack Neely pitched four hitless innings on Saturday, Cade Smith finished one inning short of a quality start in a losing effort last night.
Tonight, after the rocky first, Hawkins retired 11 of the next 12 Ridgefield batters—the lone hit coming in the third. The righty from Lower Columbia exited after five, not allowing a walk and racking up five strikeouts on the night.
Hunter Hennigh came out of the bullpen and took the baton from Hawkins in the sixth, and allowed just a single hit over two to keep Victoria in front.
Looking to provide the pitching staff with some insurance in the seventh, Harper led off the frame with a double to right, and reached third one out later. Harrison Spohn then grounded a hard liner to second, and while Harper charged in to home from third, Ridgefield’s Justin Boyd fired to the plate.
Harper ducked his head and bulldozed Raptors catcher Dominic Enbody, who absorbed the blow and tagged Harper out to keep it a one run game.
Down to their final four outs in the eighth Jonny Weaver gave Ridgefield their first run since the first, launching a solo homer to tie the game at two.
One inning later, however, Chase Meidroth began the ‘Cats half of the eighth with a double. Meidroth then advanced to third after a Tanner Haney fielder’s choice, and Jason Willow brought him home with the game-winning single.
The game remained dramatic into the ninth, when closer Matt Amrhein loaded the bases with one out. After a mound visit, Amrhein buckled down and got the final two outs to preserve the win and earn his fifth save of the season.
The two teams will square off in the rubber match tomorrow evening at Wilson’s Group Stadium, first pitch is scheduled at 6:35p.m.
GAME NOTES: In other action Tuesday, the Port Angeles Lefties defeated the Corvallis Knights 6-3 ending the Knights 16-game win streak. The HarbourCats record of 19 wins in a row in 2016, still holds as tops in the WCL.