Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
July 1, 2015, Victoria, BC (ISN) – A bases loaded walk to Scott Jarvis in the bottom of the ninth inning scored Zach Bonneau and gave the Victoria HarbourCats a wild 12-11 walk-off win over the Langley Blaze in a West Coast League exhibition game on a beautiful Canada Day afternoon at Sports Traders Diamond at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria.
Zach Bonneau (obscured) gets the customary shower as he crosses home plate with the winning run Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The game was the highlight of the Canada Day Series that included fireworks after Tuesday night’s game, as well as skydivers and an Oath of Canadian Citizenship that was overseen by Judge Gerry Pash prior to the start of Wednesday’s game.
The HarbourCats win capped off a crazy afternoon that saw Victoria score seven runs in the first two innings and then watch in horror as the Langley Blaze posted a nine-run fifth and a two-run seventh to jump into a 11-10 lead prior to the late inning heroics.
Chase Lambert wasted no time getting comfortable in Victoria, stroking a double in his first at bat (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
TheHarbourCats came out of the game quickly in this one, lighting up Langley starter Ryan Eiswerth for four runs on four hits in the first inning, highlighted by a leadoff double in his first ever HarbourCats at bat by Chase Lambert, an RBI single from Michael Gretler, a two-RBI double from Ben Polshuk and an RBI single from Nick Meyer.
They would add three more to that in the second, this time thanks to a sacrifice fly from Gretler that scored Scott Jarvis and a wild pitch to Ben Polshuk that scored Austin Guibor. That would be the end of the day for Eiswerth who was replaced by Ryo Takenaka who would get the Blaze out of the inning without further damage.
Ben Polshuk’s two-RBI double helped give Victoria an early 4-0 lead (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
After a scoreless third, the ‘Cats would add to their lead with three more in the bottom of the fourth. Tanaka would start the inning by hitting Polshuk and giving up a single to Meyer. Polshuk would then come in to score on a double from PJ Floyd. That would be it for Tanaka and he was replaced by Jonathan Cote, who after a pair of strikeouts, walked Jarvis and then surrendered a two-RBI single to Lambert that scored Meyer and Floyd to put the ‘Cats up 10-0.
With a comfortable 10-0 lead, the HarbourCats made some defensive changes, that inexplicably to many, included the debut of Alex DeGoti in the catching position. Unfortunately that debut did not go anywhere near as planned, as he struggled on balls in the dirt from pitcher Josh Walker, with the two combining for three walks, two passed balls and four wild pitches, and the defense, including DeGoti, making four errors, all of which, combined with five Langley hits, led to nine Blaze runs, only one of which was earned, cutting the deficit to 10-9 and leaving the 1,210 in attendance shaking their heads in frustration.
Nick Meyer of Victoria (right) is tagged out by Langley shortstop Liam Rihela on this play at second on Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The ‘Cats would right the ship next inning with Zach Bonneau behind the dish and Nick Wojtysiak on the hill, however in the top of the seventh, pinch hitter Kaleb Verge would touch up reliever Mikey Wright for a two-run bomb off the scoreboard in left field to give the Blaze an 11-10 lead.
Victoria had a chance to tie things in the bottom of the eighth when Chris Fougner drew a leadoff walk and Jarvis followed with a single. After a fielders choice from Griffin Andreychuk forced out Fougner at third, Pikai Winchester laced a base hit to right, but a great throw from Langley right fielder Nick Senior would cut down Scott Jarvis at the plate, keeping the score at 11-10.
That chance would come again however in the ninth, as Reno Rankin drew a leadoff walk from reliever Davis Dejarlais, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and then scored when Bonneau laced a base hit past a drawn in infield to tie the score 11-11. Desjarlais then hit Floyd, putting runners on first and second. Langley then went to lefty Austin Ell who got Kevin Amezquita to pop out on a sacrifice bunt attempt, but then Chris Fougner reached on an error on another bunt attempt to load the bases, with Ell then walking Jarvis on five pitches to score Bonneau and end the game.
Michael Gretler had a hit and a sacrifice fly and two RBIs to help the HarbourCats pull out the 12-11 win Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Victoria newcomber Chase Lambert was named the player of the game with a pair of hits, two RBIs and two runs scored. Nick Meyer also had a two hit day and Austin Guibor, with a pair of walks scored twice.
Pitcher Kyle Francis, with 1.2 innings of relief work gets credit for the win. Henry Omana started for Victoria and pitched three scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out two.
The HarbourCats now hit the road Friday to begin a three game set in Corvallis against the Knights, returning to Victoria on Monday July 6 to host the KItsap BlueJackets.
Game Notes: We are happy to report that Langley Blaze player Kurtis McCallum, who in a scary incident, was beaned in the helmet by a Matt Blais fastball early in Tuesday night’s game, is just fine. He paid a visit to Royal Jubilee Hospital where four stitches in his forehead later, he was released and was back at the park by game end.