WENATCHEE, Wash. — The fireworks, they apparently started a night earlier than planned. Fireworks are guaranteed for Monday night — likely in-game, but assured for after the game.
On a night where tens of thousands crowded Victoria’s inner harbour for Symphony Splash, the HarbourCats offered up their Symphony of Bash.
A 21-10 win in Wenatchee on Sunday gave the HarbourCats a fourth-straight victory along with a sweep of the road series, improving Victoria’s record to a season-best three games over .500 at 25-22.
It was the third road series sweep of the season for the HarbourCats.
The HarbourCats have won four in a row and seven of their last eight, going 17-6 since the team found itself with an 8-16 mark. That’s a .739 clip over that span, the best mark in the grueling 12-team West Coast League.
Tonight, the HarbourCats return home to a big crowd that was due to come out for just the Wallace Driving School fireworks show alone, an 18-minute post-game show that is an overwhelming fan favourite. And tickets have been going fast.
Now, the playoff push has created an undeniable buzz.
Dominic Topoozian was the winning pitcher, going six innings for his fifth win.
The fireworks on Sunday night brought numbers that would wear out the batteries in any calculator — including the bottom of the ninth inning, when local products Jason Willow and Brett Irvine of the Victoria Mariners program, young pitchers, found out a wounded WCL hitter is a dangerous animal. Wenatchee scored seven times in the last half inning to skew the scoreline.
The HarbourCats scored in each of the first eight innings, and did so in bunches, with video-game numbers populating the boxscore.
— Kevin Collard — 4-5, 5 runs, 5 RBIs, two walks. Among his hits — two triples, a double, and a home run and remarkably, he missed hitting for the cycle by not recording a single.
— Griffin Andreychuk — also 5 runs, 2-2 with four walks
— Austin Guibor — 4-5, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, a pair of walks
— Jake Pries — 6 RBIs, 3-6 with two runs and a walk
— Alex DeGoti — 3-5 with a run, an RBI, a walk
— Catcher Zach Bonneau got in on the fun, 2-4 with three runs and one driven in, along with two walks, raising his average 51 points
On a night when his teammates banged out 21 hits, Chase Lambert had to be chuckling a bit about going 0-7 — but he did have an RBI.
The defence was charged with six — yes, six — errors, but clearly it was a night to get those out of the system with the bats blowing up Paul Thomas Field.
This next series, quite simply, is the biggest in the three-year history of the HarbourCats franchise, which never seriously threatened to be a playoff team in the first two seasons.
The Yakima Valley Pippins are the opposition, with games Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and all are 6:35pm starts (gates open at 5:30pm). Victoria already leads the West Coast League in attendance, and the playoff fever and the promotions for these next three games should help extend that bulge.
The HarbourCats sit 4.5 games back of the West Division-leading Bellingham Bells — and remember, the two teams meet to close out the season next weekend, in Bellingham (Friday,Saturday, Sunday). The Bells have lost two in a row and are 5-5 in their past 10.
In the wild card chase, the Corvallis Knights and Yakima Valley Pippins both won on Sunday so the HarbourCats remain two games back of the Knights and a half-game back of the Pippins. Corvallis is on the road for its next five games, in Walla Walla and Kelowna.
Teams eliminated from the playoff picture are Klamath Falls, Cowlitz, Kitsap and Wenatchee, with Medford and Walla Walla hanging on by a thread. Bend, Kelowna and Bellingham are all but assured of playoff spots, leaving the wild card berth as the big debate, and the three teams in the thick of things.
The HarbourCats will open their office at 8:30am on Monday to allow fans to get their tickets for this series. Go on-line at www.harbourcats.com/tickets, or head to the office at 101-1814 Vancouver Street, or call 778-265-0327.
Tuesday’s game is Monk Office Game Night with CFAX, KOOL-FM and CTV (Bell Media Group), and it’s Harvey The HarbourCat’s birthday party.
On Wednesday, a special player presentation will take place on Fan Appreciation Night, sponsored by Flight Centres — where details of a Spring Training trip with the HarbourCats will be unveiled.
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