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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

July 26, 2014, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Victoria HarbourCats turned a 4-2 lead into a melee-filled, 8-5 loss to the Corvallis Knights Saturday night, in what can only be described as one of the weirdest games to be played this season, if not ever, at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria.

Gabe Clark (right) was honored prior to the game by HarbourCats GM Jim Swanson (left) for his success at the All-Star Game Home Run Derby (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Blame it on the crazy, Bosley’s Pet Food Ball race. Up until that time, a pretty normal and well-played game was happening at Royal Athletic Park and the HarbourCats, on the strength of a Gabe Clark home run – his seventh of the season – held a 3-1 lead over the visiting Knights.

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Victoria’s Danny Collier scampers home with the ‘Cats third run while Knights catcher Josh Latta tries to come up with the ball (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Then, in perhaps the most surreal promotion of the season, three cray fans, wearing animal masks – a horse, a unicorn and a bulldog – proceeded to run around the bases, with large exercise balls between their legs, in an effort to win, well who knows what, and after that all hell broke loose.

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The Bosley’s Pet Food Ball Race was a surreal and perhaps turning point of what turned out to be a strange evening (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

First, Harvey the HarbourCat ALMOST won his first race ever, getting nipped at the wire by a young lady. 

Then the Knights and HarbourCats would exchange runs, with Clark belting his eighth homer of the season – a moon shot over the centerfield fence – to put the ‘Cats up 4-2.

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You know things are really strange when Harvey is winning a mascot race between second and third base. He would get nipped at the wire by this young fan (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Then starter Logan Lombana who was cruising along nicely, suddenly lost it and gave up three runs with two outs in the 6th to see the Knights take the lead at 5-4.

Then in the top of the seventh, with Carson Schneider on the mound, catcher Kelly Norris-Jones took a whallop of a foul ball off his mask, sending him to his knees and ultimately out of the game, having to be replaced by Aaron Carter.

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HarbourCats catcher Kelly Norris-Jones (right) is tended to by Athletic Therapist Curtis Hawkins after taking a foul ball off the mask (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Then the real fun began. With Gabe Clark batting in the bottom of the seventh, Knight’s pitcher Chris Haddeland drilled Clark with a pitch, allegedly in retaliation for Clarks’ two home runs. That altercation cleared the benches and when cooler heads prevailed and the Knights came to bat in the top of the eighth, Victoria pitcher Sean Watkins responded with a high pitch that hit Corvallis shortstop Michael Lucarelli. That also cleared the benches again, with Watkins being ejected from the game.

The weirdness continued in the top of the ninth, as some sloppy play by the HarbourCats led to three more Knight runs and a hard tag play at second base involving the ‘Cats Griffin Andreychuk, resulted in yet the third bench-clearing discussion of the night, this time with the Knights coach Joey Wise being ejected.

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Victoria’s Wyler Smith would steal his 14th base of the season (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In the bottom of the ninth, the ‘Cats Bryce Greager hit his second home run of the season to make it 8-5 and Victoria loaded the bases and got the potential winning run at the plate, but couldn’t equalize or take the lead and the the 1,222 in attendance saw the Knights close out their 27th win of the season and head home perhaps a bit bewlidered at what they just saw.

The loss drops the HarbourCats to 18-23 on the season and with Bend winning again, drops the ‘Cats 8 games back now in the wild card race.

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HarbourCats outfielder Wyler Smith is congratulated after making a nice, inning-ending catch at the fence to end the 5th inning (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

On Sunday, the HarbourCats and Knights will meet at 1:05pm, on Used Victoria Day at the park. Andrew Nelson is the scheduled starting pitcher for the HarbourCats.

Game Notes: Clark leads the West Coast League with eight home runs, and is one bomb away from tying the league record of nine in a season. Both teams had 12 hits. The HarbourCats made three errors, two more than Corvallis. Griffin Andreychuk, Watkins, Clark, Wyler Smith and Danny Collier each had two hits for Victoria, which has lost three straight. Corvallis is on a three-game winnings streak.