HarbourCats Overtake Eagles Alumni in Exhibition Opener

1DX 0384

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart

May 21, 2016, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Victoria HarbourCats scored four runs over their final three at bats to to overcome a 6-4 deficit and pull out an 8-6 victory over a scrappy and competitive Victoria Eagles Alumni club in the first exhibition game of the 2016 West Coast League (WCL) season Tusday night at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria.

Matt Warkentin had a pretty successful offensive debut for the HarbourCats with a three-run home run and an RBI double in the 8-6 win over the Victoria Eagles on Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Playing hero for the HarbourCats was 6’5″ Matt Warkentin (U of San Francisco) who scorched a first inning, three-run home-run over the left field fence and added an RBI double later in the game. He also came on to pitch the ninth, throwing a scoreless inning to get the save.

1DX 0557The versatile Matt Warkentin also looked impressive on the mound for the HarbourCats Tuesday, throwing a 1-2-3 ninth inning to get the save (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Former Eagle Ethan Skuija (UBC) started on the mound for the HarbourCats and faced many of his former teammates, graciously giving up a first-inning, three-run home run to good friend Tyson Abbott (who has just signed a 10-day contract with the HarbourCats) in the first inning and a solo shot by another close friend, Evan Smith, later in the game. Smith’s home run was his first since his Tadpole days (ages 7-8) according to his Dad and Eagles Alumni Head Coach Murray Smith and as such, earned him the silent treatment from his teammates when he returned to the dugout.

1DX 0066The Eagles Tyson Abbott (recently signed by the HarbourCats to a 10-day contract) got the Eagles offence going and caught the attention of HarbourCats coaches and fans when he stroked a three-run homerun in the first inning Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

After Abbott’s and Warkentin’s exchange of three-run blasts in the first, the HarbourCats would take a 4-3 lead with a run in the second, only to see the Eagles manufacture single runs in the each of the third, fourth and fifth innings, to jump into the 6-4 lead. A pair of HarbourCats runs in the bottom of the sixth tied the game and one each in the seventh and eight sealed the deal and gave the ‘Cats their margin of victory.

1DX 0043
Former Eagle Ethan Skuija got the start for the HarbourCats Tuesday.  Skuija, a Victoria native who attends UBC is signed to a 10-day contract with the club (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The see-saw battle between the two clubs was enjoyed by all of the 300 or so fans that were in attendance, some of whom enjoyed the new premium seating behind home plate that puts fans closer to home plate than the pitcher. Gone too are some of the obstructive fence poles that have been replaced by continuous netting that gave fans a much clearer view of the field from the grandstand.

1DX 0145
Victoria HarbourCats baserunner Jamie Cooper (18) slides safely into second ahead of the throw to Eagles second baseman Gobind Sall during this stolen base attempt on Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

1DX 0356
A new wrinkle at Royal Athletic Park this season is the premium home plate seating that puts fans closer to home plate than the pitchers mound (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

For HarbourCats Head Coach Graig Merritt, new pitching coach Joe Fabre, bulpen coach Andrew Wilson and new assistant coach Kelly Norris-Jones, Tuesday’s game was the first time to see many of the current players, a number of which are here on 10-day contracts, in action. In addition to Skuija and Warkentin on the mound, pitching duties for the HarbourCats also went to Skyler Henderson (three innings) and Cody Ahalgrimm (two innings), who both looked impressive in their HarbourCats debuts. For the Eagles, Dallas Patterson got the start, followed by Noah Brasset and Drew Davidoff.

1DX 0440
Victoria HarbourCats baserunner Justin Brown (13) dives to avoid the tag from Eagles shortstop Zane Takhar on this stolen base attempt Tuesday. Brown would be safe on the play (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The HarbourCats are right back in action on Wednesday night as they face the Victoria Mavericks Selects, a team comprised of some of the top players from the Victoria Mavericks Senior Mens’ League that plays in Victoria. Game time is 6:35 PM at Royals Athletic Park.

1DX 0297
Victoria pitcher Skyler Henderson was one of four different pitchers used by the HarbourCats on Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)


1DX 0194
Victoria’s Cole Sullivan starts toward first base in a bid for a base hit in Tuesday’s game with the Eagles (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

For more HarbourCats imagery visit Christian J. Stewart’s web site at http://christianjstewart.zenfolio.com/harbourcats  and be sure to follow him on Twitter at @cjs_photography.