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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

July 10, 2014, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Victoria HarbourCats left the bases loaded four times on Thursday night and left fourteen men on base in total, as they dropped a 5-4 decision to the visiting Medford Rogues in West Coast League (WCL) baseball action at Sports Traders Diamond at Royal Athletic Park.

Victoria’s Alex DeGoti and his shadow turn a double play Thursday against the Medford Rogues (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Making matters worse, was that three of those four bases-loaded chances came in the bottom of each of the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, when a key hit could have broken the game open and given Victoria the win.

That the HarbourCats were even in the game at that point was a testament to another fine outing by Nanaimo native Alex Rogers, who has been quietly putting together a fine summer season. Making just his first start at home, Rogers pitched into the ninth inning and generally kept the Rogues from putting up any big innings, holding the score at 3-0 through the Medford half of the eighth.

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Victoria starter Alex Rogers would go 8 and 2/3 innings and keep his team close, surrendering 4 runs on 7 hits against Medford on Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Rogers was bitten by some tough luck on the first Medford run, scored in the top of the first when Yuto Kata would score from third with two outs on a double steal. Victoria Catcher Jake Lesinski choose to throw the ball to second to try and get the out there, with no success, allowing Kata to score. Sadly, for the HarbourCats, the inning ended on the very next pitch when Rogers got a strikeout to complete the inning.

More tough luck would get Rogers in both the third and the seventh innings when leadoff batters would be hit by pitches and come in to score. In the third, it would be Spencer Smith eventually moving to third and scoring on a wild pitch, while in the seventh, Kyle Beam would score on an RBI single from Kata.

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Medford first baseman Victor Garcia makes a nice stretch on this play Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The HarbourCats meanwhile, managed just a meager four hits off Rogue starter David Peterson through the first seven innings, two of which came in the first, another inning in which the ‘Cats left the bases loaded. Their fourth would come in the seventh, when DeGoti would leadoff with a single, only to be forced out at home on a bases loaded ground ball, as both Peterson, and reliever Ivan Dilda, managed to get out of the inning without any damage.

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Medford starter David Peterson would get the win, throwing 6 and 1/3 innings and giving up no runs on just 4 hits (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The ‘Cats would once again rally in the bottom of the eighth, finally managing to push a pair of runs across the plate thanks to an RBI double by Hunter Mercado-Hood that scored Nathan Lukes. Mercado-Hood would then later score when Lesinski was hit by reliever Matt Loeffler to make the score 3-2. Loeffler would then get Wyler Smith to pop out, ending the threat, again with three HarbourCats runners standing on the bases.

In the top of the ninth, Rogers would return to the hill for the HarbourCats and would once again hit the Rogues’ Beam to begin the inning. After settling down to get a pair of outs, HarbourCats Manager Bob Miller would remove Rogers from the mound, one could only think because Rogers had, to that point, thrown 99 pitches on the night. Instead of letting Rogers finish the inning, Miller brought in left-handed reliever Carson Schneider, who promptly walked Kata and then gave up an RBI single to Victor Garcia that scored Beam.

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Medford catcher Kyle Beam makes a tough catch on this fould pop-up Thursday night (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Making things even worse, Kata now on third, would get a good read on the left-handed Schneider’s move to the plate on the first pitch to the next batter and then on the second, would make a text-book straight steal of home plate, easily sliding under the tag from Lesinski.

With now a 5-2 score to overcome, the HarbourCats once again went to work off Medford reliever Shane Quarterley, with Aaron Barnett leading off the bottom of the ninth with a double. After a Nathan Lukes single – his third hit of the game – Griffin Andreychuk, who pinch ran for Barnett, would score on a ground out by Gabe Clark to make it 5-3.

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Victoria’s Nathan Lukes led the way for the HarbourCats Thursday with three hits and scored apair of runs (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Mercado-Hood would then walk and an DeGoti RBI single would follow, scoring Lukes and making it 5-4. After Sean Watkins struck out, an infield single from Bryce Greager would once again load the bases for the HarbourCats. That would be it however as catcher Lesinski would watch three Quarterley strikes go by, striking out looking to end the game.

Rogers, who gave up four runs in seven hits, while striking out four, takes the loss and his record drops to 2-2 on the season. His 2.38 ERA is best among the HarbourCats starting pitchers.

Game 2 in the series goes Friday night – the first Friday night game of the season for the HarbourCats. First pitch is 7:11 PM.

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