Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
July 1, 2016, Victoria, BC (ISN) – After the Victoria HarbourCats moved their West Coast League (WCL) record win streak to 19 games Friday afternoon by taking game one of their Canada Day double-header 7-0 against the Kelowna Falcons at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria, the Falcons would respond in game two of the set with a tense 2-1 win to stop the ‘Cats record run.
A Ben Polshuk grand slam in game one, helped secure a 7-0 win, the HarbourCats 19th of the season (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The double-header came about due to the rainout of one of the HarbourCats and Falcons games earlier in June in Kelowna, and as such, the HarbourCats had the pleasure of playing as visitors in game two of the set.
In game one Friday, Austin Dondanville got the start and he was once again on top of his game, pitching a complete-game, seven-inning, one hitter to get the win. In his last start, Dondanville held a no-hitter into the seventh inning before bowing out with a three-hit, seven inning performance and today he bettered that mark to move to 3-0 on the year and lower his ERA to 0.83 on the season, fourth best in the WCL.
Austin Dondanville was again in top form, throwing a one-hitter in game one (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Dondanville got all the offensive support he would need thanks to single runs in each of the third and fourth innings and a five spot in the bottom of the fifth that was highlighted by a grand-slam home run from Mr. Clutch, Ben Polshuk, his fifth and league leading home run.
Also contributing offensively were PJ Floyd, Tommy Jew and Jarron Silva, who combined in near identical fashion in both the third and fifth innings, with Floyd leading off both innings with a single, Jew moving him around with a sacrifice bunt (third inning) and base hit (fifth inning) and then Silva batting in Floyd with a pair of RBI singles.
Floyd and Jew also both contributed defensively with a pair of sparkling defensive plays in the top of the fourth, with Jew unloading a cannon of a throw from deep short and Floyd snagging a tough, well-hit one hopper, to take hits away from Kelowna batters.
PJ Floyd had a pair of hits and scored twice in the HarbourCats game one win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
For Kelowna, starter Tanner Knapp takes the loss, going four innings and allowing six earned runs on seven hits. Former HarbourCat Cody Ahlgrimm came on to pitch in relief and he was perfect, retiring all six batters that he faced.
In game two of the set, with the HarbourCats playing as the visiting team, a Brendt Citta RBI-single in the bottom of the sixth inning scored Tevin Mitchell and gave the Falcons a 2-1 lead and proved to be the streak killer. Mitchell had reached earlier on a walk from HarbourCats reliever Jack Wolger, who gets tagged with the loss.
Playing hero earlier for the Falcons was starting pitcher Jordan Ragan, who after giving up a run in the first when Matt Lautz would draw a leadoff walk and eventually come around to score on a passed ball, would then settle in to pitch six full innings, giving up just five hits, walking four and striking out three, as the HarbourCats bats suddenly went quiet.
Kelowna would get their first run in off starter Holden Lyons in the bottom of the third, when a dropped fly ball by HarbourCats right fielder AJ Alcantara would prove costly, eventually allowing leadoff hitter Chandler Robertson to score on an RBI-double from AJ Sawyer.
A bit of a tense chess match ensued after that, with both Graig Merritt and Kelowna Head Coach Bryan Donahue making multiple changes that ultimately leading to Citta’s heroics.
In the top of the seventh, the Falcons brought in closer Jared Morton, who gave up a pinch-hit double to Cody Snider, but buckled down to strike out ‘Cats slugger Ben Polshuk with the tying run on second, to end the game.
With the split, the HarbourCats drop to a 19-4 record, while the Falcons improve to 12-11, in third place behind Walla Walla and Victoria.
Kelowna lefthander Jordan Ragan, who would hold the ‘Cats to just one run over six full innings of work (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The HarbourCats and Falcons wrap up their all-Canadian series Saturday evening, July 2 at 6:35pm. Josh Mitchell is scheduled to get the start for the HarbourCats, while Kelowna will respond with Leif Strom.
Then on Sunday, the ‘Cats board the bus for a trip over the Malahat where they will head to Nanaimo to play an exhibition game against the BCPBL Pirates.
Game Notes: The HarbourCats are now ranked #5 in the Summer Collegiate League rankings, a move of 10 places since their 15th place ranking last week. The ‘Cats unfortunately will send right hand pitcher James Kannenberg home to Colorado. He injured his throwing arm on the road series in Wenatchee and will depart to begin rehab prior to his college season. Victoria also recently announced the release of returning players Josh Walker and Nick Wojtysiak, as well as pitcher Creed Smith and infielder Dominic Collachio.