Nick Plaia’s second inning home run gave Victoria an early 1-0 advantage in the extra-inning marathon won by the Raptors 8-5 in 14 innings on Wednesday evening (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)
Story by Josh Kozelj
Photos by Christian J. Stewart
VICTORIA — The Victoria HarbourCats (1-2/19-11) couldn’t close out a season high 12-game home stand on a winning note, as the Ridgefield Raptors scored three runs in the top of the 14th inning to come away with an 8-5 win over the HarbourCats on Wednesday evening at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park.
The HarbourCats looked to have an easy 4-2 win in the bag, but the Raptors also rallied for three runs in the top of the ninth to take a 5-4 lead before Victoria rallied for a run in the bottom of the ninth to send it to extras.
It was Harvey the HarbourCats’ seventh birthday Wednesday evening at Wilson’s Group Stadium, and he won his first “Mascot Base Race” of the year by defeating other local Victoria mascots (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)
With Mitch Lines making his season debut on the mound, Nick Plaia gave his starter some run support by getting the scoring started in the second inning.
After Ridgefield starter Carter Benbrook retired the first two HarbourCats in the frame, Plaia stepped up to the dish and launched his second homer of the season over the fence to draw first blood for Victoria. The home run was Plaia’s first long ball since June 14 in Kelowna.
One inning later, Parker Bramlett led off the third with a single, and Jason Willow surprised Benbrook with a bunt and sprinted down the line to reach first safely. Following the back to back singles, Chase Wehsener grounded into a fielder’s choice that gave Ridgefield the first out of the inning. Benbrook then retired Kyle Harper with a strikeout to come within an out of avoiding the inning unscathed.
However, one batter later, Tyson Hays scored both runners with a double that jumped Victoria ahead by three runs.
In his first appearance on the mound since May 27 for Lower Columbia College, Lines held the Raptors scoreless through three before running into some trouble in the fourth.
Ridgefield catcher Steve Ramirez would begin the inning by smacking the first pitch of the frame over the left field fence to put the Raptors on the board. Next up in the order, Grayson Sterling hit a double to the wall in left-centre, and Noah Taylor edged the Raptors closer with a RBI single to make it a 3-2 game.
However, Sterling would get picked off at second after trying to stretch the single into a double, and Lines got Wyatt Hoffman to strike out swinging to avoid any more damage.
In the fourth, Plaia got on base for the second time on the night courtesy of an error, and scored two outs later on a Benbrook wild pitch to restore Victoria’s two run lead. When Lines exited after the fourth, Ryan Watson and Joseph Brandon held Ridgefield scoreless over the next four innings—not allowing a single hit in the process—before Derek Salata came out of the bullpen in the ninth.
Salata managed to get the first out of the ninth, but allowed three hits and a walk to the next four batters as the Raptors scored three times in the ninth to grab a one run lead.
Harrison Grow came in on relief for Ridgefield in the home half of the ninth, and despite allowing a single with two outs, came within a strike of earning his first save of the season. Griffin Paxton, down to two strikes and two outs in the ninth, launched a clutch triple over the head of Jack Bauer in centre to score Kyle Sherick pinch running from first and send the game to extras.
The Raptors loaded the bases with one out in the eleventh, but Matt Amrhein came on to get the ‘Cats out of the jam and then after Garrett Goodall had pitched two innings of scoreless relief, the Raptors Noah Taylor leadoff the 14th with a double off Goodall. He was moved to third on a bunt single by Tyler Erne and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Jonny Weaver. A two-out double by Cameron Repetti then scored Erne and an error by Harrison Spohn allowed Repetti to score to put the Raptors up 8-5.
The Raptor’s Brandon Steele, who also pitched the 13th, issued a walk to Schindell to start the bottom of the 14th and watched Matt Turner reach on an two-out error to bring the tying run, in Emilio Nogales to the plate. Steele would strike out Nogales however to end the threat and give the Raptors the win.
With the loss, Victoria finished the home stand with an 8-4 record and brought their total home wins to 12—just three wins shy of the number of home wins they won all of last year (15).
The HarbourCats will look for revenge against Ridgefield when they hit the road for eight games tomorrow beginning with a one-game date with the Raptors. Calvin Turchin is the scheduled starter for that. Victoria will then head to Bend and Walla Walla next week, before returning home again on July 19. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35p.m at Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.