Story by Josh Kozelj
June 25, 2018 – Behind three hits from Jason Willow and four no-hit innings from Tyler Yoshihara, the Victoria HarbourCats (10-9) earned a quality come from behind 7-6 victory in 11 innings over the Walla Walla Sweets (11-8) in Southeastern Washington State.
Winners of eight of their past ten games coming into tonight, the Sweets continued their recent hot streak by getting to HarbourCats starter Tyler Thomas early in the first.
Thomas, who came into tonights game with an ERA of 0.00 in 13 innings pitched this season, started the game by allowing two hits and two walks. The Southpaw would collect a strikeout to get one out in the inning, but not before Zach Penrod hit a RBI single to give the Sweets first blood and a 1-0 lead.
The Baylor University product would give up another walk, and two wild pitches in the first to increase Walla Walla’s lead to 3-0 before the second inning started.
Walla Walla countered with a lefty of their own on the bump tonight, as Bryce Moyce (Washington State) got the nod for Manager Frank Mutz’s Sweets.
The HarbourCats trimmed the lead in the visitor’s half of the third when Nicky Gibbs scored Willow on a RBI single. However, Walla Walla answered right back in the bottom half, with the fourth earned run of the night from a Cesar Lopez RBI single to bring their lead back to three at 4-1.
Head Coach Brian McRae pulled his starter heading into the fourth, opting for Ethan Fox out of the bullpen, and Thomas would finish with 4 strikeouts to 5 walks with four earned runs in three innings pitched.
Victoria started to gain momentum for rally in the fourth courtesy of infielder Dustin Demeter.
Leading off the inning, Demeter smacked his first home run of the season to cut the Sweets lead in half, and coming up to bat in the sixth the Goleta, CA native earned a walk to continue the HarbourCat comeback.
Demeter would later score on an error from the Sweets shortstop to climb the ‘Cats to within one run.
However, once again Walla Walla responded quickly, putting two runs on the board in the home half of the sixth with a pair of RBI singles to bring their lead back to 6-3.
Down to their final nine outs in the seventh Willow would spark the HarbourCats with his recent hot bat, and the visitors would capitalize on a plethora of Sweets errors.
Coming off four hits in three games vs. Bellingham on the weekend, Willow hit a single, and with Walla Walla committing plenty of miscues in the field it allowed for Victoria to stay in the game.
Michael Malinchak scored off an error from the shortstop, and Willow crossed home plate with the help of an error from the Sweets catcher to make it a 6-5 game.
Trailing by one entering the ninth, Willow collected his third hit of the night with a triple into the gap, and later scored his third run of the night from Jack Smith sac-fly to tie the game at 6.
Yoshihara, who came in for relief of Fox and Cade Brown, produced four no-hit innings on the mound to keep the Sweets scoreless and ensure the game would continue into extra innings.
In the eleventh, Jack Smith scored Malinchak with his second RBI sac-fly of the night to give Victoria their first lead of the night, and set the stage for Landon Anderson to close out the Sweets after impressive performances from Willow and Yoshihara.
Anderson would allow two hits in the inning, but managed to preserve the HarbourCats with their tenth victory of the season.
The Sweets and HarbourCats will continue their series tomorrow night at 6:35pm, as Justin Solt will look for the series victory against Sweets starter Ty Hueckman at Borleske Stadium.