HarbourCats Lose, Fail to Gain Ground in WCL Playoff Race

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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

July 29, 2015, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Victoria HarbourCats jumped out to an early 3-0 lead only to see the Cowlitz Black Bears come back for a 5-3 win Wednesday night in West Coast League baseball action at Sports Traders Diamond at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria.

Victoria shortstop Alex DeGoti (24) leaps for a throw from the outfield that was too late to get Black Bear baserunner Lorin Archibald who slid safely into second on this play (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The loss was a tough one for the ‘Cats as they failed to gain any ground in the Wild Card playoff race, staying 2.5 games back of the Corvallis Knights who also lost, but losing ground on Yakima who defeated Medford 2-0.

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Griffin Andreychuk was all smiles as his team gave him the silent treatment after he stroked a solo first inning home run, his third in the last two games (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Things started well for the HarbourCats off Cowlitz left-handed starter Chris Castellanos as Griffen Andreychuk would continue his hot streak by htting his fourth home run of the season in the bottom of the first to give Victoria a 1-0 lead.

The ‘Cats would add two more in the second to make it 3-0 thanks to a two-RBI triple from Alex DeGoti that scored Nick Meyer and Michael Gretler who had both singled to start the inning.

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After a rough two innings, where he allowed 3 runs on 5 hits, Cowlitz starter Chris Castellanos settled down to shut the HarbourCats down for the next six innings, giving up just four more scattered hits before leaving after the eighth inning (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

That would be the extent of the HarbourCats scoring however as Castellanos would be lights out after that, as following the triple, he would give up just four more scattered hits, pitching through a full eight innings, walking none and striking out four.

That would allow the Cowlitz offence to come alive off Victoria starter Austin Dondanville, scoring a run in the top of the third and three more in the top of the fourth to take a 4-3 lead. Another run in the top of the ninth would add the insurance needed, as closer Lars Rider would come on to earn his league leading 11th save of the season by retiring the side in the ninth, striking out the final two batters, to end the game.

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The Victoria defence was good early as Griffin Andreychuk turns a second inning double play (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The offensive damage for the Black Bears was done by Jake Pavletich who had a two-RBI single in the three-run fourth and a sacrifice fly in the ninth to finish with three RBIs on the day. Isaac Benard also had a good day, with a pair of hits and two runs scored.

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Jake Pavletich had a solid night for Cowlitz with three RBIs including a pair on this fourth inning single (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

For the HarbourCats, in addition to Andreychuk’s home run, DeGoti had a two-hit evening with a pair of RBIs, while Ben Polshuk and Nick Meyer contributed a pair of hits each.

Castellanos takes the win and helps the Black Bears snap a six-game losing streak, improving their record to 18-26 on the season.

Dondanville, who went six innings, allowing the four runs on four hits and five walks, was tagged with the loss, dropping his record to 3-2 on the season. Josh Walker saw work in relief over the final three innings.

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Nick Meyer had a pair of hits for the HarbourCats on Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The two teams will close out their three-game set with an afternoon game at 1:00 PM on Thursday. Emilio Foden is scheduled for the Black Bears, while Matt Blais will take the mound for the HarbourCats.

Victoria then travels to Wenatchee for a three game set beginning Friday, before returning home on BC Day Monday to open what could be a critical three-game series with Yakima, one of the teams the HarbourCats are chasing in the Wild Card race.

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Michael Gretler chugs around the bases on his way to scoring on an Alex DeGoti triple (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

GAME NOTES: The game was a cleanly played affair with neither team recording an error. It was also completed in 2:46, one of the shortest HarbourCat home games this season. With his home run, Andreychuk is now tied for the team lead with Kevin Collard and PJ Floyd, all with four each. Also with his home run, Andreychuk has now hit safely in 14 of his last 16 games.

With two hits Wednesday, Ben Polshuk is now hitting .306, and has moved up to second place in hitting on the team behind Andreychuk. The Black Bears could have won Wednesday’s game by a few more runs if it were not for two sparkling defensive plays by first baseman Michael Gretler who climbed the ladder twice to snag line drives and take base-hits away from the Bears.

In a nice touch of history, Don Pries, grandfather of Victoria’s Jake Pries, threw out the first pitch Wednesday. Don was the manager of the 1952-1954 Victoria Tyees that played at Royal Athletic Park and has been a scout in the Baltimore Orioles organzation for many years.

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Don Pries (right) grandfather of the HarbourCats Ben Pries (left) was on hand Wednesday to throw out the first pitch.  The elder Pries coached in Victoria in 1952 when the Victoria Tyees called Royal Athletic Park home (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

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