Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
July 2, 2016, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The streak now stands at one. A day after suffering their first defeat in the last 20 games, ending their 19-game record win streak, the Victoria HarbourCats rebounded with a 10-4 win over the Kelowna Falcons in West Coast League (WCL) action Saturday night in front of 1,647 fans at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria.
Josh Mitchell would have his strongest outing of the season, going 8 full innings Saturday to get the win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The win was the HarbourCats 20th of the season and puts them halfway to the next WCL record they have in their sights, a 40-win season, which given the fact they have already clinched a playoff spot and established a WCL record for wins in a row, will be the team goal – the carrot and stick if you will – that Head Coach Graig Merritt will use to motivate his troops over the rest of the 2016 season.
Motivation did not seem to be a factor early, as the ‘Cats would open the scoring in their very first at bats when Griffin Andreychuk and Ben Polshuk would draw walks from Kelowna starter Leif Strom, with Andreychuk then scoring on a Cody Snider single.
Victoria centre fielder Jake Stone would make a great diving catch of this sinking line drive early in Saturday’s game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Kelowna would answer back in the top of the third and score a pair of runs off HarbourCats starter Josh Mitchell, thanks in part to a JT Williams single and a throwing error by ‘Cats shortstop Tommy Jew that allowed Bowen Ogata (fielder’s choice) to score. Williams would then score on a Tevin Mitchell ground out to give Kelowna a 2-1 lead.
Victoria would respond in the bottom of the frame, as Jew would make up for his error in the previous inning by crushing a leadoff double to the fence in left. That seemed to rattle Kelowna’s Strom who then gave up pair of one-out walks to load bases. That brought up Cody Snider, who, exactly like he did in Thursday’s Division clinching win, would triple to the right-centre gap, scoring three and then coming in himself when the throw to third went into the Kelowna dugout giving Snider home plate and the ‘Cats a 5-2 lead.
Victoria shortstop Tommy Jew had a busy day defensively Saturday, here making a nice play on a Kelowna ground ball (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Victoria would blow things open in the bottom of the sixth with five more runs, keyed primarily by a bases-loaded single by Joe Prior that scored a pair, with a third coming home on yet another Kelowna error. Dakota Dean also added an RBI single to then score Prior.
On the mound, Josh Mitchell had his strongest outing of the year, going a full eight innings, giving up the two Kelowna runs on just four hits, no walks and seven strikeouts.
Blake Hannah came on to close out the ninth for Victoria and made things interesting by eventually loading the bases with two out and then giving up a two-RBI single to Ogata to make it 10-4. Jake Druce then reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases again, but Hannah would then get Kevin Morgan to pop out on the very next pitch to end the game.
Victoria’s big hit Saturday once again came from Cody Snider who had a bases-loaded triple to break open a close 2-1 game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Snider, with two hits and four RBIs led the eight hit HarbourCats attack, followed by Prior with a hit and two RBIs and two runs scored. Andreychuk and Polshuk would also score twice.
Mitchell with the win, improves his record to 3-0 on the season. For Kelowna, Strom takes the loss, going just three innings and giving up five runs on three hits, while walking four and striking out two. Five other Kelowna relievers also saw action in the game.
Dakota Dean would contribute a sixth inning RBI single to help cement the 10-4 in over the Falcons (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Next up for the HarbourCats is an exhibition game in Nanaimo on Sunday, as they take their travelling road show to Serauxmen Stadium for a match against the Pirates. After that it is road trip time and they head south for a three game set with the Cowlitz Black Bears on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. They return home to RAP on Saturday July 9th to begin a three game series with the Bend Elks. Game time for that is 6:35 PM.
After clinching the first half Division title, the HarbourCats and pitcher Josh Mitchell began a “new era” Saturday as they now go for a record 40 wins over the remainder of the season (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
GAME NOTES: He may just be out of high school, but Jarron Silva is showing he can play at this level and heading into Saturday leads the HarbourCats in hitting (.389), hits (21), runs scored (14), triples (2) and stolen bases (7). The HarbourCats have nine players batting over .300 for the season and as such lead the WCL in team batting average at .283. They also have 16 home runs, 10 more than any other team.