Erb Near Perfect as HarbourCats Trounce Wenatchee in Opener

1DX 0198

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

June 7, 2016, Victoria, BC (ISN) – Victoria starting pitcher Dalton Erb was near perfect on Tuesday night as he pitched eight innings of one-hit ball to lead the HarbourCats to an 11-1 thumping of the Wenatchee AppleSox in the HarbourCats West Coast League home opener at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria.

Victoria’s Dalton Erb delivers the first home pitch of the 2016 HarbourCats season. Erb would go on to pitch 8 innings of one-hit ball in the HarbourCats 11-1 win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The 6’8″, 250 lb. Erb absolutely dominated the Apple Sox over the first seven innings of the game, retiring, in order, the first 20 batters he faced, when a questionable call on a potential strike three with two outs in the seventh allowed the AppleSox’s Ryan Murkle to walk, spoiling the perfect game to that point.

Erb would get a strikeout to end the inning, his 12th of the game, but would then surrender a lead-off single to Wenatchee’s Steve Machtolf to start the eighth to lose his no-hit bid as well. He would complete the inning by striking out his 13th batter of the game, walking off the field to a standing ovation from the 4,544 fans in attendance and earning a big hug from Head Coach Graig Merritt.

1DX 0194
At 6’5″ and 250 lbs. one could see why the Wenatchee hitters had a tough time with the dominating Dalton Erb (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Helping Erb out on the offensive side of the ball was centre fielder Cody Snider, who had a monster game, going 3 for 5 at the plate with four RBIs and scoring three runs. One of those hits was the biggest of the night, a two-run home run in the bottom of the third that scored Justin Brown (walk) but more importantly kick-started a HarbourCats offence that was struggling early against Wenatchee starter Tyler Burch.

The HarbourCats offence continued to roll after that, putting up five more runs in the bottom of the fourth thanks in part to some sloppy defensive play by the AppleSox, a less than stellar relief appearance by the AppleSox’s Nick Hoefling and another big hit from Snider, this time a broken-bat single that scored Justin Bundy (single) and Wyatt Young (walk).

1DX 0385
The offensive hero of the night for the HarbourCats was Cody Snider who got things going with a 2-run home run in the third and here in the fourth, knocking in two more RBIs on a broken bat single (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Three more runs in the bottom of the fifth, highlighted by a two-RBI single from Brown and another run in the eighth, scored by who else, Snider, who doubled to lead off the inning, would cap the HarbourCats scoring in the game.

Returning pitcher Nick Woitysiak, who arrived in town Tuesday, would take the mound in the ninth for Victoria, surrendering the lone Wenatchee run on two hits, before closing things down and getting the HarbourCats their first win of the season.

1DX 0305 1DX 0312
When Erb was not striking out one of his 13 batters, he got some good defence including here in the same inning, nice infield plays by third baseman PJ Floyd (left) and shortstop Wyatt Young (right) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

For the ‘Cats Erb, his performance was the closest he has come to both a perfect game and a no-hit game in his career and he felt Tuesday’s crowd was a big reason why. “This was incredible and is such a great feeling. To come out on opening day and to be able to throw that well and to have the command I had felt great. And the fans…this was the biggest crowd I’ve pitched in front of and their intensity was great. I could feel their fire and I fed off that. It was even better that they were cheering for our side and that kept me pumped the whole way.”

1DX 0337
Victoria’s Justin Bundy heads to first with a single in Tuesday’s game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The HarbourCats would finish with 10 hits in the game and in addition to Snider’s heroics, Matt Smith had a pair of hits, while PJ Floyd, Matt Warkentin, Bundy, Riley Guntrip and Brown had the others. Warkentin, Bundy and Brown would also score a pair of runs each.

IMG 9975
It was a crazy night at the ballpark as Krazy George (right) was there to entertain fans, as well as HarbourCats staffer Shawn Petriw (left) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The big win capped off a crazy opening night for the HarbourCats, with pre-game ceremonies that included parachutists, a tribute to the Mann Cup winning Victoria Shamrocks Lacrosse Club and in keeping with the crazy theme, the antics of Krazy George, a well known professional cheerleader, who kept the crowd entertained all evening.

The ‘Cats and the now 0-4 AppleSox are back at it again on Wednesday night for game two of their set, 6:35 PM at Royal Athletic Park.