HarbourCats Take Win in Extra-Inning Thriller With Wenatchee

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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

June 28, 2015, Victoria, BC (ISN) – Chris Fougner drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 11th inning to score Jake Pries and give the Victoria HarbourCats a much needed 11-10 win over the Wenatchee AppleSox in West Coast League baseball action Sunday afternoon at Sports Traders Diamond at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria.

The HarbourCats mob Jake Pries (not visible) after he scored the winning run in the 11-10, eleven inning win over Wenatchee on Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The 1,141 in attendance Sunday got an eerie sense of déjà vu, as just like in Friday’s game, the HarbourCats stormed out to an early lead, only to watch Wenatchee chip back with runs in the middle innings and again, just like Friday, score one in the eighth and three more in the ninth to tie the game 10-10 and send it to extras.

This time though, the HarbourCats bullpen would come through, with Josh Mitchell atoning for his bases-loaded balk on Friday to pitch 2.2 innings of scoreless relief in the 9th, 10th and 11th to get credit for the win.

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Victoria’s Kevin Amezquita (11) is greeted by his teammates after stroking a three-run home-run in the first inning Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The HarbourCats, sporting a new look line-up, jumped out to an early 5-0 first-inning lead off Wenatchee starter CJ Gettman when Reno Rankin would reach on a leadoff double and evenntually score on a Jackson Thoreson groundout. PJ Floyd would then add an RBI single to score Micheal Gretler, who earlier walked, and then Kevin Amezquita capped the inning with a three-run home-run to right that scored Floyd and Chris Fougner, who had reached on a base hit.

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Wenatchee third baseman Nick Nyquist watches the ball pop up into the air after Griffin Andreychuk slid safely into third during Saturday’s action (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The teams would trade single runs in the second, but the HarbourCats would score two more in the fourth to go up 8-1. Two of those three HarbourCats runs would come on RBI singles from Thoreson, one in the second and one in the fourth, with the other coming on an RBI single from Fougner.

In the fifth, the AppleSox began to chip away at HarbourCats starter Austin Dondanville, as Sheldon Liikala, Jake Hirabayashi and Joey Jansen reached on back-to-back-to-back singles to start the inning. A fielders choice to Ryan Crowe and a sacrifice fly by Keston Hiura would score Liikala and Hirabayashi respectively to make the score 8-3.

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The HarbourCats could have had two more runs during the fourth inning, but Griffin Andreychuk (top) and Jackson Thoreson (bottom) were both gunned down on these plays at the plate by Wenatchee catcher Ryan Crowe (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Dondanville would be replaced by reliever Josh Walker to start the fifth and after a pair of outs, the AppleSox would score three more when Liikala, who reached on a one-out single, would score on a wild pitch and Hiura would stroke a two-RBI single to score Jansen and Crowe.

The HarbourCats would add a run in the bottom of the sixth and the teams would trade runs in the eighth, before the AppleSox once again worked their ninth inning magic off HarbourCats closer Kyle Francis, who gave up a single, hit batter and walk to the first three batters he faced. Hirabayashi and Jansen would then stroke RBI singles and a sacrifice fly from Crowe would tie the game 10-10.

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Jackson Thoreson would have a huge day for Victoria going 4 for 5 with three RBIs (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Mitchell and Wenatchee closer Anthony Contonio would then take the teams to the bottom of the 11th, when Prise drew a lead-off walk. After a bloop single to left by Thoreson, his fourth hit of the game, PJ Floyd would beat out an infield bunt and the bases were loaded. Fougner, who broke out of his slump Sunday and who already had a two-hit day, worked the count full before fouling one off to stay alive, and then took ball four to score Pries and give the ‘Cats the 11-10 win.

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When he was not killing the HarbourCats with his bat – going 5 for 14 with a double and 3 home runs and 5 RBIs over the three games – Wenatchee shortstop Evan Douglas was getting it done on defence including this nice play Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Offensively for Victoria, Thoreson was the big hero of the day, going 4-5 with three RBIs. Amezquita added his three-run blast and Fougner was 2-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Griffin Andreychuk and Floyd were both 2-5, while Michael Gretler with a single and three walks and Pries with three walks, both scored three times.

For Wenatchee, Liikala was 4-5 with an RBI and three runs scored, while Jansen finished with three hits and an RBI. Evan Douglas and Nick Nyquist also chipped in a pair of hits in the losing effort.

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Wenatchee baserunner Sheldon Liikala would avoid the stretch and tag from Victoria catcher Jackson Thoreson to score the tying run on a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

On the hill, Victoria’s Dondanville went five full innings allowing three runs on nine hits, with three strikeouts. In addition to Walker and Francis, Nick Wojtysiak also provided 2.1 innings of middle relief.

For Wenatchee, Gettman went four complete, allowing eight runs on eight hits. Sean Sparling provided four innings of middle relief, while closer Contonio, takes the loss with two innings of relief work.

With the win, the HarbourCats manage to avoid being swept in a series for the first time this year and improve their record to 8-13 on the season. However with the losses Friday and Saturday, the ‘Cats have now lost six of their first seven three-game series, with their only series win coming in the first set of the year against Kitsap.

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Victoria third base coach Alec Adame (right) gives home plate umpire Will Hunter (left) a piece of his mind after being ejected for arguing a call late in Sunday’s game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The ‘Cats will now have four days of from WCL play and a chance to regroup heading into the second third of the season. They head into Corvallis on Friday July 3 to meet the currently 7-13 Knights, so perhaps it will be Victoria’s turn to take advantage of another struggling team and get themselves pointed in the right direction.

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Chris Fougner would foul off a key pitch here before drawing the game winning, bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 11th inning (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Victoria will prepare for that Corvallis series by hosting a pair of exhibition games against the Langley Blaze Senior Men’s team this Tuesday and Canada Day Wednesday. Tuesday’s night’s 6:35 start will be followed by fireworks and then on Wednesday at 1:05 pm it will be a Canada Day celebration with the Victoria Skydiving Club and a Canadian Citizenship Oath prior to the game.

Game Notes: This was the second game in a row that “Mr. HarbourCat” Alex DeGoti was not in the starting lineup. Rumour has it that DeGoti has been taking some practice reps in the catching position and that he may be put in that spot in one of the games against Langley. Did you know that Victoria second baseman Pikai Winchester was a member of the 2008 Little League World Series Champion team from Waipio, Hawaii? The first ever Diamond Dig, which saw close to 40 contestants dig up the warning track behind home plate for a chance to win $1,000 in jewellery from Barclay’s Jewellers, was a huge success and enjoyed by all. Earlier in the week the promotion generated some controversey by a few isolated members of the media who felt it was sexist and demeaning to women. Those participating today had no such issues and enjoyed the event tremendously, especially the lucky winner.

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