HarbourCats Squeak by Wolves for the Sweep

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Story and Photo by Christian J. Stewart

June 16, 2016, Victoria, BC – The Victoria HarbourCats earned their eighth straight victory of the season on Thursday afternoon, as they squeaked by the Gresham GreyWolves 3-2 in a West Coast League matinee game played at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria in front of over 3,100 school kids and business people enjoying a day away from their respective institutions.

The HarbourCats showed off some slick defense Thursday, especially here when right-fielder AJ Alcantara made a great diving catch of this sinking line drive (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Leading the way for the HarbourCats was hitting machine Griffin Andreychuk, who had three hits and an RBI and with that raised his batting average to a rather mediocre .615. Andreychuk feasted on Gresham pitching and in the three games of the series, his first three of 2016, has gone 8 for 13 with a pair of doubles and an RBI.

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Starting pitchers James Kannenberg (left) for Victoia and Aaron Shoup (right) for Gresham would duel it out over a scoreless first four innings (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Also leading the ‘Cats offensively Thursday were Matt Smith and Brad Plushkell who had a pair of hits each including a double by Smith. Both also scored a run each, Plushkell on an Andreychuk single in the fifth and Smith on a wild pitch in the bottom of the sixth that turned out to be the winning run of the game.

The ‘Cats James Kannenberg and the Wolves Aaron Shoup would engage in a tight pitching duel over the first four innings of the game, until Victoria broke through first with Andreychuk’s RBI single to score Plushkell who led the inning off with a single. The ‘Cats would go up 2-0 in that same inning when Cameron Cannon (who singled) would come home on an Andreychuk steal of second.

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Victoria shortstop Cameron Cannon would make a great effort to get to this ball deep behind second, but was unable to make the play to first (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The HarbourCats would give those two runs right back in the top of the sixth as Kannenberg would walk leadoff hitter Curtis Perrin and advance to second on a wild pick off attempt. A wild pitch then moved him to third and he would score on an error by Victoria shortstop Cannon that allowed Jordan Barchus to move to second.

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Griffin Andreychuk had three more hits Thursday and has gone 8 for 13 since joining the team three games ago (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

A base hit by Jeffery Mitchell would put Wolves runners on first and third and spell the end of the day for Kannenberg who was replaced by Ryan Steindorf. Steindorf, making his HarbourCats debut, would be near perfect in relief, giving up a sacrifice fly to the first batter he faced and counting that, retiring the first 10 batters he faced before surrendering a single to Ryan Rodriguez, only the Wolves fourth hit of the game, in the ninth.

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Victoria reliever Ryan Steindorf was superb in his HarbourCats debut, retiring the first 10 batters he faced and giving up a single hit in his 4 innings of work, earning the win in the 3-2 victory (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

That would be all the damage the Wolves could muster though and Steindorf retired the next two to finish the game and get his first win a A HarbourCat.

The win improves the HarbourCats record to 8-3 on the season and moves them 1.5 games ahead of Kelowna (who play Thursday night) in the race for first in the WCL’s North Division. The GreyWolves fall to 3-6 and to fifth in the South.

Victoria now prepares to entertain the Cowlitz Black Bears this weekend for a three game set beginning Friday night at 6:35 PM. Big lefty Josh Mitchell will get the start for the HarbourCats against the 6-4 Black Bears.