Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
July 15, 2015, Medford, OR (ISN) – The Victoria HarbourCats continued to roll, winning their ninth straight game – a team record – scoring a 5-1 win over the Medford Rogues in West Coast League action Wednesday night at Harry and David field in Oregon.
The leap is getting to be a common site as Victoria has run their win streak to nine with a 5-1 win over Medford Wednesday (File Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The win gives the HarbourCats (17-16) their third straight series sweep and more importantly moves them to within one game of a wild card playoff spot and just four games back of West Division leading Bellingham, who were 3-2 losers to Cowlitz on Wednesday.
The HarbourCats will now host Bellingham for three games starting Thursday night, in what now has become the biggest home series of the year to date for Victoria. Counting this series, they will face Bellingham nine times over the remainder of the season, including three more in Bellingham July 21-23 follwing the All-Star break and in the final three games of the season, in Bellingham, on August 7-9. Mark those dates on the calendar now!
On Wednesday, the HarbourCats got it done, as they have during this whole streak, with solid pitching and some clutch hitting up and down the lineup.
Josh Mitchell, pitching here last week against Kitsap, got his first start of the season against Medford Wedneday and got the win (File Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Josh Mitchell, normally used in a set-up or closing role so far this season, got the start and while the Rogues got to him for a single run in the first, that would be it, as Mitchell would throw up goose eggs for the next five innings, scattering 9 hits total and striking out six.
Austin Dondanville, with a scoreless seventh and eighth and Henry Omana, with a scoreless ninth would provide awesome bullpen support to close out the win.
The HarbourCats, who would also score in the first, plated four more in the seventh to break the 1-1 tie and put the game away.
Offensively, the HarbourCats were led once again by Nanaimo Pirates product Griffin Andreychuk, who had two hits, an RBI and a run scored. Andreychuk, who was biding his time on the bench since arriving from Seattle University in mid-June is now making it hard for Head Coach Greg Merrit to find an excuse to not put him in the line-up, having gone 10 for 18 with eight runs scored and six RBIs in his last six games, all of which have been within the nine game run.
Griffin Andreychuk has 10 hits and 6 RBIs in his last 6 games, including 2 hots and an RBI on Wednesday against Medford (File Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Also leading the way Wednesday was Ben Polshuk, with a pair of hits and a pair of RBIs. Like Andreychuk, Polshuk has also been hot during the nine game streak, going 8 for 22 over his last six games, with five RBIs.
Other notables included Austin Guibor with a hit and an RBI, PJ Floyd with a hit and run scored, and Chase Lambert with two walks and two runs scored.
The ‘Cats will now hope to gain more ground on a Bellingham squad that looked to be running away with the Division, but have struggled of late, having lost three of their last four games, all to Cowlitz.
Another Nanaimo product, Alex Rogers, is slated to get the start Thursday at Sports Traders Diamond and he should be fresh, having not pitched since a 7-3 loss in Corvallis on July 3.
Ben Polshuk, hitting here last week against Kitsap, had two hits and two RBIs against Medford on Wednesday (File Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
While Game 2 and 3 starters have not been announced, expect Dominic Topoozian to go Friday (which may allow him to pitch an inning in Monday’s All-Star game), with perhaps Johnathan Buckley getting the call Saturday.
Bellingham has not announced their pitchers yet, but no matter who takes the mound, the HarbourCats will be well challenged to keep their current offensive pace going, as the Bells are leading the league with a 2.59 team ERA, and have allowed the fewest hits and fewest runs of anyone.
Of course that pitching will face a HarbourCats lineup that is now third in the league in runs scored and that has jumped into sixth place in team batting (.249), and boasts four regular players who are hitting over .300, including Andreychuk (.389). AJ Alcantara (.349), Scott Jarvis (.311) and Chris Fougner (.300). Kevin Collard is also hitting .293 and is leading the team and ninth in the league in RBIs with 20.
Needless to say it will be an exciting time at Sports Traders Diamond on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and if the importance of the games were not enough, the HarbourCats are putting on some incredible promotions to get folks out to the games.
Thursday’s 6:35 start is Baseball Card Giveaway night and the first 1000 fans through the gates will receive a 40 card set featuring photography of each player by ISN photographer Christian J. Stewart. It is also a Victoria Chamber of Commerce night, Freedom 55 will have a large group and will host a post-game party at Duke Saloon after the game, and BC Games Society is holding a staff event at the game.
Chris Fougner, with nine hits and five RBIs in his last five starts, hopes to keep his hot streak going against Bellingham on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (File Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Friday is Forces Friday with Galaxy Motors, $5 tickets for all forces members and their families, and it’s Superheroes Night at the Park, presented by Superbath Mobile Car Wash, with one very dirty car getting the best wash it’s ever had — inside and out. Island Savings will be there with Simply Free Fridays giveaways, and the first 250 kids will receive comics from Curious Comics.
Saturday will see two giveaways — water bottles from Wilson’s Transportation, YYJ Shuttle and the HarbourCats, and team posters from Metropol. There will be special event ticket giveaways as well, including Eves of Destruction roller derby.
The HarbourCats are then take their brand up Island on Sunday with an exhibition game in Nanaimo, which will be played in front of a sold-out crowd at Serauxman Stadium.
GAME NOTES: AJ Alcantara, who had three hits in the 8-2 win Tuesday night and has 10 hits in his last five games, was not in the lineup Wednesday. Zach Bonneau got the start at catcher Wednesday and was 1-3. Victoria native Chris Fougner has also contributed well over the nine game win streak, with nine hits, three runs and five RBIs in his last five starts, including a four-hit, four-RBI night in Klamath Falls on July 11.