Matt Clayton admiring a hit in a game last season in Victoria. (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
Story by Josh Kozelj
WENATCHEE, WA — The Victoria HarbourCats (1-1) coasted behind the right arm of starting pitcher Aaron Celestino, and scored early and often en route to a 8-3 victory over the Wenatchee AppleSox (1-1) at Paul Thomas Sr. Field.
After Cade Smith went six strong with three earned runs in an Opening Day quality start last night for Victoria, Celestino followed his teammate in the rotation with six innings of one run ball in his HarbourCat debut—giving the ‘Cats starting pitching staff their second straight quality start to open the season.
Facing a resilient AppleSox team, who responded with runs in every inning after the HarbourCats scored last night, Victoria jumped out of the gates early with 2018 returnee Matt Clayton leading the way.
Clayton’s RBI single in the first set the tone for the HarbourCats, who would score three more times in the frame aided by a Wenatchee errant throw to the outfield. Clayton finished the night with two hits and two runs scored.
Meanwhile, on the home team’s bump, AppleSox starter James Kulak left the game after giving up four runs in the first, but even a new pitcher struggled to slow down Clayton at the dish.
Drawing a walk to start the the third, Clayton would score later after a Harrison Spohn ground ball turned into the fourth Wenatchee error of the night—giving Victoria a 5-0 lead.
On the mound, it wasn’t until the home half of the third when Celestino would give up his first hit of the evening, a Trent Sellers looping fly ball to right. After giving up another single one batter later, Celestino limited the damage by retiring the next three AppleSox, including a one-out sacrifice fly that trimmed the HarbourCat lead to four.
The game remained deadlocked until the bottom of the seventh, when Wenatchee plated a run courtesy of an another sac fly. But tonight it was Victoria who immediately responded, putting up two runs on the board in the top of the eighth highlighted by a pair of RBI singles from Tanner Haney and Kayden Beauregard to make it a 7-2 game.
Wenatchee scored again the home half of the eighth, but Luka Green came on in relief and shut the door in the ninth to give Victoria their first win of the 2019 season.
The win tonight snapped a five game losing streak to Wenatchee, and gave new Head Coach Todd Haney his first WCL victory.
Victoria will go for the series victory tomorrow night at 6:35 in the rubber match, before heading back to Vancouver Island for the home opener Friday against Corvallis.