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June 5, 2014, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Victoria HarbourCats began their first game of 2014 with a 4-run first inning, but then had to hang on to earn an 8-7 win over a combined team of Victoria Mariners and Victoria Eagles BC Premier League players in a West Coast League exhibition game Thursday night at Sports Traders Diamond at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria.

Mariners second baseman Mitch Bryan chases HarbourCats baserunner Bryce Greagor back to first during a run-down Thursday night (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The game served as a tune up for the HarbourCats, as they get set to head to Kelowna Friday for their 2014 season opener against the Falcons, while the Mariners and Eagles both awarded many of their senior players the opportunity to play in, what for them, was a bit of an all-star game against some top collegiate level players.

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Mariners fan Joel Wright was on hand to throw out the ceremonial first “at-bat” on Thursday night and struck out HarbourCat Kelly Norris Jones on three pitches (Photos: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

As can be expected in a game of this nature, both teams used a cavalcade of pitchers – 18 in total saw action in the game – with the HarbourCats and Head Coach Bob Miller and pitching coach Ben Jackson using the game as an opportunity to see seven of their throwers in action.

This included local products Alex Rogers (Nanaimo) who started the game, as well as Victoria natives Brett Hull, Nick Kearley, Brandon Feldman and Eric Hegadoren. Rogers and Hull pitched a scoreless first and second inning respectively, with Hull striking out a pair in his appearance.

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Nanaimo’s Alex Rogers got the first start of 2014 for the HarbourCats, pitching a scoreless first inning (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

On the other side of the diamond, the MarinEagles sent Mariner Dan Phillips to the mound and he was greeted with a leadoff single by Nathan Lukes. After a fly out, Phillips would hit Hunter Mercado-Wood and then walk Wyler Smith to load the bases, before giving up the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly and RBI from Bryce Greager.

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Victoria Eagle Sam Stevenson heads to third for a second inning triple (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Phillips looked to have safely gotten out of the inning with minimal damage when he induced a grounder to third from Jake McAdams, but a wild throw to first by Mariner Tanner Hess went all the way into right field foul territory, allowing both Smith and Mercado-Hood to score. The next batter, Noah Cummings, also hit another ground ball to second that found its way through the wickets of Eagles second baseman Zane Takhar, allowing McAdams to score and put the HarbourCats up 4-0 early.

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HarbourCats coaches including field boss Bob Miller (right) were busy Thursday keeping tabs on the seven different pitchers they sent to the mound against the MarinEagles (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In the top of the 3rd, the MarinEagles would respond, taking advantage of a nightmare inning from the HarbourCats Nick Kearley, who no doubt was wishing he had a “do-over” available to use. Kearley struggled with his control right from the start, walking the speedy Brendan Turcotte, who very quickly ended up at third after a wild pitch to Jesse Mycock. Kearley would then hit Mycock and after a ground out from Takhar that scored Turcotte and advanced Mycock to third, another wild pitch allowed Mycock to score and spelled the end of the evening for Kearley who was replaced by Brandon Feldman who quickly doused the fire and pitched a scoreless top of the 4th to keep the lead at 4-2 .

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Jesse Mycock would slide home with the PBL’s second run of the game after a wild pitch by HarbourCats pitcher Nick Kearley (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

After failing to score against Eagles pitcher Riley Edmonds in the 2nd and Mariners pitcher Jacob Barnard in the 3rd, the HarbourCats would add a pair of runs off Mariner pitcher Lucas Piechnik in the bottom of the 4th. Catcher Alan Baldwin would lead things off with a double to the fence in centre and then come home on an RBI double from Cole Kreuter. Kreuter would then later score on an RBI-groundout by Ted Boeke and the HarbourCats left the inning with a 6-2 lead.

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HarbourCats shortstop Cole Kreuter puts the tag on the Mariner’s Morgan Varley during this stolen base attempt Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

After HarbourCats pitcher Alex Fagalde pitched a scoreless 5th and 6th inning and the ‘Cats added another run in the bottom of the 5th off Eagles pitcher Dallas Patterson, it appeared that the HarbourCats could coast home, holding a 7-2 lead after six innings of play.

However the scrappy MarinEagles had other thoughts in mind and after Drew Davidoff held the Cats scoreless in the bottom of the 6th, they would start the top of the 7th by greeting former Eagle Eric Hegadoren with a double from Matthew Wellington and a walk by Alex Hendra-Brown. After a ground out advanced the runners up a base, an error on a ball hit by Turcotte would allow Wellington to score making it 7-3. Mycock would then single, scoring Hendra-Brown and sending Turcotte to third. He would then score on a sacrifice from Mitch Bryan and the lead had been cut to 7-5.

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HarbourCats pitcher Alex Fagalde would throw 2 scoreless innings and get credited with the win Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

After the Mariners Nick Dawson pitched a scoreless bottom of the inning and the HarbourCats Hegadoren and reliever Dylan Stowell did the same in the top of the 8th, the HarbourCats would add another run in the bottom of the 8th thanks to a single by Kreuter (his third hit of the game) and an RBI single from Ted Boeke. Both hits came off Mariners pitcher Chris Fougner, who also issued three walks, and reliever Tyler DeMan was called upon to finish the inning with the score 8-5 ‘Cats.

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Mariner pitcher Nick Dawson would be one of four Eagles / Mariners pitchers to pitch scoreless innings against the HarbourCats on Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In the top of the 9th, with Stowell still on the mound, the MarinEagles would keep battling and after a leadoff single to Mycock (his second of the game) and a walk to Bryan, Chris Lata stroked a 1-out pinch hit single to score Mycock and Bryan and cut the lead to one, 8-7. Piechnik then pinch ran for Lata and stole second, but following that, Stowell dug in and struck out the final two batters to end the game and give the HarbourCats the exhibition win.

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Mariner baserunner Lucas Piechnik slides safely into second on this 9th inning stolen base attempt Thursday.  Piechnik would represent the tying run, but would advance no further as the final two batters struck out to end the game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Game Notes: Special needs student Joel Wright was on hand and threw a ceremonial first “at-bat” striking out the HarbourCats Kelly Norris-Jones on three straight pitches. ‘Cats pitcher Tim Peabody (Loyola-Marymount) was charting pitches and using the radar gun behind the plate tonight and it looks like he will get the start in Kelowna on Friday. Victoria native Matt Bryan joined the HarbourCats today to begin his 10-day contract with the team. The Eagles Sam Stevenson had a pair of hits including a 2nd inning triple.