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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart

June 1, 2016, Victoria BC (ISN) – Returning players PJ Floyd and Josh Mitchell, both of whom stepped off planes Tuesday night and were in the lineup Wednesday, looked no worse for wear, as they helped the Victoria HarbourCats to a 5-3 victory over the Victoria Selects in a West Coast League (WCL) exhibition game at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria.

With a 2-run home run and a single, the HarbourCats PJ Floyd made a successful return to the team Wednesday night against the Selects (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Floyd, a fan favourite last year and fresh off his season at Sacramento State, got the HarbourCats offence rolling Wednesday with a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning that easily cleared the right field fence.

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Hard throwing lefty Josh Mitchell made his retun to the HarbourCats Wednesday and looked strong in his one inning of work (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Mitchell, who is coming off an injury-shortened season at Pitt, looked as strong as ever, coming in to pitch a scorelss seventh inning, the only damage coming on an infield single by the Selects’ Brendan Turcotte.

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The Select’s Brendan Turcotte had  strong night with four hits including this leadoff double (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Selects, a team comprised of a number of local players from the Victoria Mavericks Senior Men’s League, as well as some current and former Victoria Eagles and Victoria Mariners, gave the HarbourCats a good battle Wednesday, threatening to score in the first thanks to a lead-off double by Brendan Turcotte, but he was later thrown out at the plate to end any threat.

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HarbourCats catcher Hayden Jaco (right) puts the tag on the Selects’ Brendan Turcotte during this play at the plate in the first inning Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Selects did manage to score a pair of runs in the third inning to tie the game 2-2, thanks in part to a HarbourCats error that allowed Brandon Feldman, who was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, to score and then an RBI double by Duncan Blades that scored Kobe Morris, who had reached earlier on a fielder’s choice.

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Duncan Blades had an RBI double for the Selects in the third that helped tie the game at that point 2-2 (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

That tie would not last long however, as in the bottom of the third, Tuesday night hero Matt Warkentin would be hit by a pitch and later come in to score, when Floyd, who reached on a single, his second hit of the night, was caught stealing at second.

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HarbourCats second baseman Justin Brown (right) turns the double play on a sliding Jeremy Campbell of the Selects (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The HarbourCats would add some insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth inning when Justin Brown would lead things off with a single and Jarron Silva would walk. Brown would come home to score on a perfectly executed hit and run, RBI-single by Cole Sullivan, while Silva would later come home when Sullivan stole second, drawing a throw.

The Maverick’s would add a run in the top of the ninth thanks to an RBI single from Kieran Waters but that would be as close as they would get, as the HarbourCats would shut it down to move to 2-0 for their exhibition season.

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An RBI single by Cole Sullivan in the fifth gave the HarbourCats some insurance in the 5-3 win over the Selects (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Floyd, with his home run and a single, and Brown, with a pair of singles, were the offensive leaders for the HarbourCats Wednesday, while the Maverick’s Turcotte, who also played for the Eagles Alumni squad on Tuesday, was an offensive force in the leadoff spot for the Selects, with four hits and reaching base a fifth time when he was hit by a pitch. Blades also had a good night with his RBI double and a pair of walks.

On the mound, the HarbourCats once again looked at a number of arms including starter Casey Costello, Will Dawson, Mitchell, former Victoria Eagle Evan Smith and of particular note, right-hander Troy Birtwistle.

The 45-year old Birtwistle owns TRB Construction, the contractor who built the new premium seating behind home-plate and as a thank-you for his efforts, the right-hander, a former National Baseball Institute pitcher who pitched pro ball in Australia, was given an inning or two on the mound and looked great in his WCL debut.

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45-year old pitcher Troy Birtwhistle made his West Coast Leage debut Wednesday, keeping the Selects scoreless during his three innings of work (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The HarbourCats now have a practice day tomorrow and hit the road Friday to begin the West Coast League season with a game Friday night in Walla Wall, the first of a three game set with the Sweets. They then have a day off to gear up for the home opener on Tuesday June 7th against the Wenatchee Apple Sox. Game time at RAP is 6:35 PM but fans will want to be there earlier for all the pre-game activities.

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Another young pitcher who looked good for the HarbourCats was former Victoria Eagle Evan Smith who had an 8-pitch eighth inning, including a strikeout (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

GAME NOTES:  The HarbourCats mades some changes following the game Wednesday, reassigning to the Puget Sound Collegiate League players Cole Sullivan, Jordan Ackerman, Jamie Cooper, and Will Dawson. Added to the club for travel to Walla Walla were Kobe Morris and Wyatt Young, both infielders.  It is expected that a number of other players will learn their fate tomorrow ahead of the opening game against Walla Walla. The HarbourCats are carrying a large number of 10-day players and some tough decisions will need to be made to cut the roster down and make way for the core players who are arrivng slowly. One bit of bad news for the HarbourCats is that catcher Nick Meyer, who was here last season, will not be back as he has been sidelined with an injury that will keep him off the field for couple of months.