Above: The HarbourCats Nicky Gibbs hat a hit, a walk, three RBI and a run scored in the HarbourCats 8-4 loss to the Falcons on Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)
Story by Josh Kozelj
Photos by Christian J. Stewart
June 29, 2018 – The Victoria HarbourCats (10-12) dropped to a season-low two games below .500 in a 8-4 loss to B.C. rival Kelowna Falcons (13-9) Friday, in the first game of a Canada Day Weekend series at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park.
Mason Shaw got the nod tonight for his second start of the season, and he ran into trouble immediately, giving up a Matt Voelzke lead-off double to start the game, but was able to escape the jam by inducing an inning ending strikeout.
However, no such luck would be found in second. The righty would get two quick outs to start the inning, but after giving up back to back singles and a walk to load the bases, Voelzke continued his productive night off Shaw, and sent the first pitch he saw into the jet-stream for his first grand slam of the season to propel the Falcons ahead 4-0.
Countering for the Falcons on the mound, Trevor Brigden provided the visitors with six quality innings, including seven strikeouts. Brigden didn’t allow a hit until the third inning, when Nick Plaia perfectly executed a hit-and-run play with Nicky Gibbs, who had walked just before him. However, the right hander would avoid the threat by getting Adam Imwalle to popup, keeping the HarbourCats scoreless.
The Voelzke homer would prove to be the only blemish for the Yakima Valley College native. Shaw finished with five strikeouts, with one walk, and retired seven of the next nine batters he faced after the grand slam before exiting the game in the fifth inning.
Head Coach Brian McRae opted for hard-throwing right hander Nathan Walker out of the bullpen, who touched 93 miles per hour on the radar gun, in 1 1/3 innings of one-hit ball.
Trailing by four entering the home half of the fifth, Gibbs sliced the Kelowna lead in half by sending a long fly ball, that with the help of a strong breeze, carried just over the fence for his second home run of the season.
Kelowna would respond immediately with a pair of insurance runs in the sixth, highlighted by Voelzke RBI groundout for his fifth RBI of the night.
Voelzke finished with two hits and 2 runs on the night, to increase his season batting average by 14 points to .264.
Michael Malinchak provided the home fans with an electrifying play to end the seventh, robbing a home run from Dylan Orick by reaching over the right field fence to keep the score at 6-2, and sparked a rally in the bottom half of the inning.
Malinchak led off with a double, and with Brigden out of the game in favour of reliever Ian Turner, scored on a RBI groundout from Gibbs to make it a 6-3 game. Nick Plaia added to the rally by smacking his third RBI of the season with a single off Turner to climb the ‘Cats within two runs.
However, Zane Lindeman would come on to preserve the lead, and the righty escaped the jam with a Jason Willow popup.
For the third consecutive game, Falcon’s DH Trent Tinglestad went yard with a two run home run in the ninth to put the game out of reach. Coupled with Lindeman, who would go on to pitch 2 2/3 inning of one-hit ball to end the game, the Falcons’ secured their seventh consecutive win and series opening victory.
The two teams will continue their Canada Day Weekend set tomorrow tomorrow night at 6:35pm, on Fireworks Night with Eagle Wing Tours at Wilson’s Group Stadium. Only a few seats remain in reserved seating for Saturday, but plenty of general admission seating is still available. Contact the office at 778-265-0327 to get your tickets between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm Saturday. Gates and the box office at the park opens at 5:00 PM.