Black Bears Maul HarbourCats

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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

June 19, 2015, Victoria, BC (ISN) – For the second night in a row, the Cowlitz Black Bears put more than ten runs on the board, this time defeating the Victoria HarbourCats 12-8 in West Coast League (WCL) action at Sports Traders Diamond at Royal Athletic Park (RAP) in Victoria on Saturday night.

Cowlitz starter Josh Johnson would get the win Saturday, going seven plus innings and allowing 4 earned runs on 8 scattered hits, while striking out four (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Billed as the McGregor Socks and ISN Anawim House Sock Toss Night, the 2,107 fans in attendance did not have to wait long to toss their socks on to the field, as Cowlitz’s Lorin Archibald crushed a three-run homer to right in the top of the first, to give the Black Bears an early 3-0 lead.

All socks tossed were collected and will be donated to Anawim house, across the street neighbours to RAP, who provide charitable needs and housing for those living in physical, emotional, spiritual and social poverty.

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Cowlitz shortstop Casey Henderson (30) turns a double play over sliding Victoria baserunner Michael Gretler (20)(Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

While the HarbourCats would scratch one of those runs back in the bottom of the inning, the Bears would score two more in the top of the third and another five in the top of the fourth, to jump into a 10-1 lead.

Suffering the brunt of that damage was Victoria starter Luke Manuel, a former Canada National Junior Team member, who struggled, giving up five of the Cowlitz runs on six hits, in just two complete innings of work.

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Victoria second baseman Scott Jarvis turns a double-play over Cowlitz baserunner Casey Henderson (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Manuel was relieved by Sean O’Toole, who fared well until the fourth, when he looked to have gotten a strike out to end the inning, but did not get the call from home plate ump Scott Eckhart. A rattled O’Toole then proceeded to walk in two runs before being replaced by reliever Mikey Wright, who would allow another three runs to score – one on another walk and two more on a two-RBI double by Sean Sutton – before getting out of the inning.

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Another double-play chance for Victoria second baseman Scott Jarvis on Cowlitz baserunner Sean sutton, would be denied on a disputed safe call at first base.  (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Meanwhile the HarbourCats would struggle to find any consistent offence off Cowlitz starter Josh Johnson. Aside from the run in the first and a Kyle Francis two-run blast in the bottom of the fourth, Johnson would shut the ‘Cats down through seven innings to hold a 10-3 lead to that point.

After the Bears notched an inurance run in the top of the eighth to make it 11-3, the HarbourCats finally came alive in the bottom of the inning to get two more off Johnson, including a leadoff home run from Jake Pries. Reliever Kelvan Pilot fared no better, and aided by an error, the HarbourCats scored three off of him to put five on the board on the inning and close the gap to 11-8.

That would be it however, as the Bears would score again in the ninth and then shut the ‘Cats down in order in the bottom of the inning to come away with the 12-8 win.

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Despite home runs from Jake Pries (right) and Kyle Francis (left) the HarbourCats would come up short in their game with Cowlitz Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Black Bears were led offensively by Archibald, who along with his first inning homer, had a double and single and four RBIs. He also scored three runs. Sutton also had a three hit day, cashing in a pair of RBIs.

For the HarbourCats, Pries earned player of the game honours for his homerun and another base hit. He also scored a pair of runs. Alex DeGoti and Michael Gretler also had two-hit evenings, with DeGoti scoring a pair of runs. Francis also scored twice.

Johnson would get credit for the win for the Black Bears, while Victoria’s Manuel would take the loss. Pilot, James Brooks and Lars Rider saw relief work for Cowlitz, while O’Toole, Wright and Nick Wojtysiak worked on the hill for Victoria in relief of Manuel.

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Torin Glodstein and the rest of the HarbourCats had the rally caps working well in the bottom of the eighth inning, but it would not be enough as the ‘Cats fell 12-8 to the Black Bears on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The now 5-9 HarbourCats will try for the third straight series to salvage the last game of the set, when they go back at it against the Black Bears on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 PM in a special Father’s Day matinee. Seth Rayburn will get the start for Cowlitz, while the HarbourCats will likley counter with Dominic Topoozian.

Game Notes: Socks were not the only thing being tossed on Saturday night, as HarbourCats Head Coach Graig Merritt earned his first ejection of the season after arguing a balk call against pitcher Mikey Wright that led to one of the Bears runs in the disastorous five-run fourth inning. He will miss Sunday’s game as a result. Pitching Coach Alec Adame was absent Saturday as he was serving a suspension as a result of his ejection in Friday’s game. Cowlitz outhit Victoria 14-9. The HarbourCats Kevin Collard, with a hit Saturday, is now fourth in league batting with a .410 average. Alex Rogers leads the league with three wins and is second in ERA at 0.47.

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