Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
June 21, 2015, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Victoria HarbourCats used a three-run seventh inning to break up a tight 1-1 game and cruise to a 6-1 win over the Cowlitz Black Bears in West Coast League (WCL) action at Sports Traders Diamond at Royal Athletic Park (RAP) in Victoria on Sunday afternoon.
Victoria starter Dominic Topoozian had another dominating start Sunday, getting the win and allowing just a single run, on six scattered hits over 7.1 innings of work. (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The win, in the first Father’s Day game in team history, marks the third time in the last three series that the HarbourCats have won the last game of the series in order to salvage a win in each. Cowlitz had defeated Victoria 11-8 Friday and 12-8 Saturday, before the ‘Cats rebounded on Sunday afternoon.
Head Coach Graig Merritt knows that while Sunday’s win was good, the team will have to be better from here on out to have a shot at the playoffs. “We are at 6-9 right now and even though we are just 4.5 games out of first, to realistically have a shot at the playoffs, we pretty much have to win two of three every series from this point forward,” said Merrit following Sunday’s game.
PJ Floyd had a two hit day for the HarbourCats and scored what would be the game-winning run in the seventh inning (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
To do that, the HarbourCats are going to need the kind of consistent starting pitching that Sunday’s starter Dominic Topoozian provided. Making his third start of the season, Topoozian spun his best game to date, allowing just a single run on six scattered hits, striking out five and most importantly walking none, to get the win.
Topoozian was also the beneficiary of an offence that finally came alive in the seventh inning off Cowlitz starter Seth Rayburn, who was also throwing a quality game, having held the ‘Cats to just a run through the first six innings of the game.
Victoria Pitcher Dominic Topoozian improved to 2-1 on the season and dropped his ERA to 1.63 with his 7.1 inning performance on Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
In that seventh, PJ Floyd got things started by legging out an infield single. He was moved to second on a pinch hit single from Kevin Collard and then came in to score on a two-out RBI double from Jake Pries. Mr. HarbourCat himself, Alex DeGoti, then came through in the clutch, launching a two-RBI single to increase Victoria’s lead to 4-1.
Topoozian would come out to start the eighth inning for Victoria, but would get himself into some late trouble, giving up a one-out single and then having the Bear’s Mitch Bevacqua reach on a rare DeGoti error. That would be the end of his day and lefty Josh Mitchell would come in to save the day, striking out Lorin Archibald for out number two and on the same play, Cowlitz’s Slate Miller was caught stealing third on a perfect throw from HarbourCats catcher Jackson Thoreson, ending the inning.
Cowlitz pitcher Seth Rayburn deserved a better fate Sunday, as he held the HarbourCats to just a single run through the first six innings, before giving up three in a game-turning seventh (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The HarbourCats would use that defensive momentum to add two more insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth inning and Matt Blais would then come on to pitch a scoreless ninth, aided in part by a pretty, game ending, around the horn double play started by third baseman Michael Gretler.
Mr. HarbourCat Alex DeGoti had a clutch two-out, two-RBI single in the bottom of the seventh to put the HarbourCats up 4-1 at the time (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Offensively, Victoria was led by Floyd and Collard with a pair of hits each. DeGoti had a hit and pair of RBIs, AJ Alcantara had a hit and an RBI, while Gretler continued to swing a hot bat, with a single, walk and run scored. He also takes over the team batting lead with a .455 average.
For Cowlitz, Lorin Archibald and Bowen Ogata both had two-hit games, with AJ Graffanino notching the only Black Bear RBI with a second inning single.
The HarbourCats will now enjoy Monday off before hitting the road for a three-game set with the 6-6 Kitsap BlueJackets beginning Tuesday. The ‘Cats return to Sports Traders Diamond on Friday June 26th to host the East Divison basement dwelling Wenatchee AppleSox (4-7).
Left-hander Josh Mitchell came on in relief o Topoozian in the eighth and promptly got the ‘Cats out of a potential jam with a big strikeout (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Game Notes: Attendance Sunday was announced at 2,327. The HarbourCats were wearing new solid blue hats for Sunday’s game featuring a modified Cat Head logo, superimposed on a baseball. Pitcher Josh Walker was not available for the Cowlitz series due to a minor lower-body injury. He will travel to with the team to Kitsap. The HarbourCats made some roster moves following Sunday’s game, releasing Brady Rogers from his ten-day contract and officially announcing the release of Preston Ryan. Pitcher Henry Omana from Cal State Fullerton will be joining the team in Kitsap. That leaves pitcher Jonathan Buckley and infielder Chase Lambert as the last two roster players not yet with the team.