Eagles Drop 3 of 4 to Okanagan A’s in Weekend Series


Horne Pitches Gem for Lone Win

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart – ISN

Victoria, BC (ISN) – In what can only be described as a wacky weekend of baseball that featured crazy weather, inoperable stadium lights, a brilliant pitching performance and a controversial, game-impacting call, when the dust had settled, the Okanagan A’s had taken three out of the four BC Premier League games they played against the Victoria Eagles at Lambrick Park on Saturday and Sunday.

The fun started Saturday, when the A’s, who had departed from the BC Interior at 5:00 am that morning to make the trek to Victoria, arrived to find the city under December-like cold, wind and torrential rain which caused a 2-hour rain delay, with the first game of the double-header beginning at 5:00 pm.

The late start did not seem to bother the A’s however, as they would get to Eagle starter Brett Hull for 5 runs in the first 2 innings en route to an eventual 6-1 win over the Eagles. Leading the way for the A’s with two hits each were Josh Croft, Morgan Lofstrum, Brandon Sonnenberg and Dallis Senger. On the hill, Clinton Heidebrecht and Croft would combine to 5 hit the Eagles, with Heidebrecht getting the win.

IMG 1816
The A’s Clinton Hedibrecht would get credit for the 6-1 win over the Eagle’s in Game 1 Saturday (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN) 

With game one ending just after 7:00 pm, game two of the doubleheader did not get going until 7:30 pm and was expected to be easily completed under the stadium lights at Lambrick, which can be used until 10:00 pm.

However as the game progressed and the shadows began to set in, it became apparent that the lights were not coming on and that the teams would have to complete as much of the game as they could before darkness.

IMG 2109 IMG 2136
The Eagles’ Alex Hendra-Brown (left) and Jesse Thompson (right), accounted for 5 of the Eagles’ 9 hits in the first two games Saturday (Photos by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

As to the light issue, apparently the master breaker for the lights had been turned off earlier in the spring, as the longer daylight hours meant less need for the lights, however the person who turned off this breaker and who was the only one who knew where it was located, was not at the park and could not be reached by any of the Eagle parents who were scrambling madly to try and get the lights turned on.

As such, the game had to be halted midway through the 6th inning (around the 9:00 pm mark), with the A’s holding a slim 1-0 lead over the Eagles, and resumed Sunday morning prior to the scheduled Sunday double-header between the two teams.

IMG 1986
The Eagles had a hard time figuring out the motion of the A’s Game 2 starter Saturday – Nolan Handley, who held the Eagles to just 3 hits in the 6 innings he worked (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

After Saturday’s miserable weather, the Gods were smiling on Victoria Sunday with an absolutely beautiful day for baseball. The teams took back to the field at 10:00 am to continue Game 2 and it was the A’s who added an insurance run in the bottom of the 6th and then closed out a 2-0 win over the Eagles.

For the A’s pitcher Nolan Handley got the win, shutting down the Eagle’s on just 3 hits in the six innings he pitched on Saturday night. Josh Croft came in Sunday morning to get the save.

The loss ran the Eagles losing streak to three games and they needed something to jump start them and get them back on track.  That something turned out to be pitcher Kurt Horne who got the start in Game 1 Sunday and proceeded to spin a complete game, 3 hit beauty to get the win 6-1.

IMG 2376
A relaxed Kurt Horne spun a 3-hit beauty in Game 1 Sunday, earning a 6-1 win for the Eagles (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

Horne was in complete control in the game, walking just one batter while striking out seven, and keeping the Okanagan batters guessing all day by effectively mixing up his pitches.

The Eagles also finally got their bats going (they had scored just 2 runs in their last 3 games), with Vinny Martin contributing a pair of hits and Alex Hendra-Brown and Will Wild knocking in a pair of runs each.

IMG 2647
Okanagan second baseman James Ward uses all of his 5’10” frame to force out Eagle baserunner Brandon Feldman in Sunday’s action (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

The momentum from that win seemed to carry over into Game 2 Sunday, as the Eagles found a way to score 4 runs off the A’s hard-throwing Morgan Lofstrum and take a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the 7th inning.

In the bottom of the 7th, reliever Daniel Bednarski, who had take over from Brendan Miller in the 5th, got the first A’s batter, Croft to ground to short, but an error by the Eagle’s Vinny Martin allowed Croft to reach.

IMG 2888
Victoria’s Vinny Martin motors around second on hs way to a triple in Game 2 Sunday (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

After a fly-out, controversy ensued when home plate umpire Al Tulloch ruled that A’s batter Dawson Yates was hit by a pitch, when it appeared to everyone in the park that the ball had simply been low and in the dirt and nowhere near the batter.

IMG 2795
In addition to scoring 2 of the Eagles’ 4 runs in Game 2 Sunday, RJ Forbes also had a stellar day defensively, making a number of fine plays at third base (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

After discussing it with the base ump, Tulloch’s call stood, and as is often the case following such controversial situations, the next A’s batter, Lofstrum, crushed a triple to the wall, scoring Croft and Yates and tying the game 4-4.

The very next batter, the A’s Jordan Ramirez would then send the first pitch he saw up the middle and past the drawn-in Eagles infield to score Lofstrum and give the A’s the walk-off victory and their third win of the weekend against the Eagles.

IMG 3024
Morgan Lofstrum’s 7th inning triple would knock in 2 runs to tie the game. He would then score to give the A’s the win in Game 2 Sunday (Photo by Christian J. Stewart -ISN)

With the three wins, the A’s move to 27-9 on the season and sit in a second place tie with Nanaimo, just one game back of league leading Langley. The Eagles drop to 16-21 on the season and sit in 8th.

IMG 3006
The A’s Jordan Ramirez would throw just two pitches, but it was all he needed to get credit for the A’s 5-4 win Sunday. Ramirez would also go 3 for 4 at the plate to help offensively (Photo Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

Christian J. Stewart
Christian is a professional photographer and media professional based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Currently working as the Assistant General Manager for Victoria HarbourCats Baseball Club, a Senior Contributing Editor and photographer at Independent Sports News (ISN) and operating his own freelance photography and media/pr company.