Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
July 19, 2014, Victoria, BC (ISN) – In a game that featured a little bit of everything and then some, extending until the 11th inning, the Victoria HarbourCats watched the Klamath Falls Gems score six runs in the top of the 11th as they dropped an 11-6 decision Saturday night in a game they needed to win to keep pace in the chase for the West Coast League wild card playoff position.
Victoria’s Griffin Andreychuk (left) goes to put the tag on Klamath Falls baserunner Kyle Dozier during a third inning play that created mass chaos and confusion on the diamond and on the scoreboard (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The loss, combined with the Bend Elks win over Cowlitz, drops the ‘Cats 5 games back of Bend for that final playoff spot, as all teams now head into the brief All-Star break.
The HarbourCats trotted Dylan Stowell out to the mound Saturday to make his first start of the season. Stowell, who is battling his way back from a foot injury, last pitched July 9th in a relief appearance in Yakima, where he surrendered 3 hits and 3 runs over 2.1 innings of work. On Saturday, his stats were almost identical, as he gave up 4 walks and the Gems touched him up for 4 hits and 3 runs in 2.1 innings of work before being relieved by Carson Schneider, as the visitors jumped out to an early 3-0 lead.
Victoria catcher Jake Lesinski stretches to make the tag on Klamath Falls baserunner Jake Whisler during this close play in the third inning of Saturday’s game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The damage could have been worse for Stowell and the HarbourCats, as a chaotic play that ended the Gems third inning created confusion over the number of runs scored by the Gems in the inning. On the play, a sacrifice fly (out number two) scored the Gems second run of the inning and third of the game, but on the ensuing throw, base runner Kyle Dozier was picked off second base for the apparent third out. However both base umpires, in a glaring case of miscommunication, made a call on the play, one calling out, the other safe. On the initial out call, Victoria second baseman Griffin Andreychuk, assuming the third out had been made, tossed the ball to the mound. The Gems base runners, who saw the safe call and assumed the ball was still live, then continued to run around the bases. In the end, the ruling was that a third out had been made, but it then took umpires and officials until the seventh inning to finally clarify that a third run originally credited to the Gems in that inning did not count.
Klamath Falls catcher Jake Whisler chases Victoria baserunner Hunter Mercado-Hood (not seen) back to third during a second inning run-down (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The HarbourCats did their best in the next two innings to make the confusion not matter as they scored 3 runs in the third and another 2 in the fourth off Gems starter Ryan Strombom to jump into a 5-3 lead. Gabe Clark kept up his torrid pace as he had an RBI single in the third and a 2-RBI double in the fourth to account for three of the runs. Alan Baldwin and Hunter Mercado-Hood also cashed RBI singles in the third, while Nathan Lukes had a hit and scored a run in each of the two innings.
It was a busy time on the basepaths for the HarbourCats in the third inning Saturday as both Alex DeGoti (left) and Nathan Lukes (right) would come in to score on consecutive RBI singles (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
After that offensive outburst, pitching would take over as the HarbourCats Schneider would keep the Gems off the board in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings and the Gems Strombom and reliever Austin Hagy, who came in to start the sixth, would do the same to the HarbourCats in the fifth and sixth respectively.
Victoria’s Carson Schneider was excellent in relief Saturday, throwing 3.2 scoreless innings against the Gems (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
In the top of the eighth inning the Gems would tie the game up, as reliever Tim Peabody, who came in for Schneider to begin the seventh, would surrender a lead-off walk to Thomas Walker and then a 2-run home run to the Gems Kyle Dozier. That would be enough to send the game into extra innings and keep the score tied 5-5 through 10 innings, as both Hagy and Victoria reliever Preston Ryan were working well in relief.
Victoria’s Hunter Mercado-Hood continued to show that he should have been an All-Star pick, stroking four base hits to raise his team leading average to .344 and knocking in two RBIS to push his league-leading total to 35 (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
In the top of the eleventh, Ryan’s luck on the mound ran out, as he surrendered a single, double, hit batter and walk to begin the inning, giving the Gems a 6-5 lead. Things only got worse from there, as Victoria reliever Ryan Keller, who has been struggling to find his game all season, entered and after a fly out to centre, surrendered three consecutive run-scoring singles to Jay Anderson, John Williams and Thomas Lerouge that pushed the Gems lead to 10-5.
The Gems’ John Williams would have a solid day Saturday with 4 hits and 3 RBIs to lead all Klamath Falls hitters (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
After a strikeout and then two consecutive walks, the latter with the bases loaded, the score jumped to 11-5 and what remained of the announced crowd of 1,243 headed to the exits.
The HarbourCats were able to get one of those runs back in the bottom of the inning on Mercado-Hood’s fourth hit and second RBI of the night that scored Alex DeGoti, who had reached earlier on a double. That would be it however and Hagy would close out the 11-6 win for the Gems.
Klamath Falls reliever Austin Hagy would get the win in relief Saturday, holding the HarbourCats to just a single run over six innings of work, striking out 5 and walking just one in the process (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The HarbourCats now break for the All-Star game and resume action in Cowlitz on Tuesday, starting a three-game series, then return to Sports Traders Diamond on Friday night for a home series against the Corvallis Knights — the first time in history the Knights, one of the cornerstone franchises of the West Coast League, will be in Victoria. The first night of the is Black Press Carrier and Baseball Card Night, with the first 1,500 through the gates receiving a set of HarbourCats baseball cards. The second game in the series, Saturday night, is Bosley’s on Yates Game night, and Sunday’s afternoon is Used Victoria Day.