Bend Power Surge Hands HarbourCats First Loss at Home

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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

July 10, 2016, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Bend Elks finally did what no other West Coast League team has been able to do this season and that is hand the Victoria HarbourCats their first loss playing at home, as the Elks jumped out to an 11-2 lead en route to a 15-8 win, in an offensive slugfest Sunday afternoon at Royal Athletic Park (RAP) in Victoria.

Bend’s Tommy Lane (left) is congratulated by catcher Louis Wolf (right) after stroking the Elks’ fourth home run of the game in the sixth inning Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The HarbourCats did lose a game at RAP earlier in the season – the 2-1 loss to Kelowna that snapped their 19-game winning streak – but recall in that game, the ‘Cats were the visiting team and as such, sported a 16-0 record at home coming into today’s action.

The Elks pounded out 18 hits in Sunday’s affair, including four home runs, showing the 2,898 in attendance why they are the defending West Coast League Champions. Two of those home runs came in a five-run first inning, as Patrick Flynn and Tommy Lane went back-to-back off Victoria starter Jack Wolger to kick the Elks offence into high gear.

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It was a pretty good day for Bend’s Patrick Flynn who had a pair of moon-shot home runs and five RBIs to lead the Elks to the 15-8 win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

While the ‘Cats would get two of those back in the bottom of the inning, Wolger would give up two more in the top of the second before getting the hook for Kyle Mora in the middle of the frame.

Mora would get the ‘Cats out of that inning, but Bend would flex their muscles again in the top of the third, scoring four runs, highlighted by another monster shot over the scoreboard by Flynn, his second such hit of the game.

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AJ Alcantara was the offensive hero for Victoria Sunday with a pair of hits including a two-run home run (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

An AJ Alcantara two-run home-run in the bottom the third scratched back another two-runs for Victoria to make it 11-4. A Matt Smith single, Cameron Cannon double and a pair of wild pitches then scored Smith and Cannon to make it 11-6 heading to the fourth.

The HarbourCats would continue their comeback bid, with another pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth, this time thanks to an RBI-double from Jarron Silva that scored Cannon (double) and an RBI-single from Matt Lautz – his second hit of the game – to score Silva and cut the lead to 11-8.

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Bend’s Tommy Lane (right) is congratulated by Jack Strunc (2) after Lane’s first inning home run (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

After a Billy King solo shot off Mora put Bend up 12-8 in the top of the sixth, the Elks would threaten again in the top of the seventh, but a great leaping catch at the fence by Victoria left-fielder Alcantara robbed Jack Strunc of a possible fifth home-run and potentially three more runs, to keep the ‘Cats close.

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Victoria’s Cameron Cannon had a pair of doubles Sunday and scored twice to give the HarbourCats some hope (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The comeback dream would fade in the top of the ninth however as Bend would score three more runs off reliever Colin Ashworth to open the lead to 15-8 and put the game on ice.

For the Elks, Flynn with his two home-runs and five RBIs led the way offensively, followed by Strunc with four hits and three RBIs. Jack Anderson and Louis Wolf both had three-hit games, while George Mendazona added a pair. Mendazona, Anderson and Wolf also scored three times each.

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It was Harvey’s birthday on Sunday but these two young contestants did not do him any favours, handing him yet another loss in the popular Mascot Race around the bases (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

For Victoria, their 12-hit attack was led by Alcantara with two hits, including his home-run and the pair of RBIs. Lautz had a three hit day, while Silva, Smith and Cannon, with two doubles, had a pair of hits each in the losing effort.

On the mound, Bend’s Cal Neeley gets credit for the win in relief of starter Andrew Edwards, who made it through 3.2 innings of work allowing six runs on five HarbourCats hits. Neely went three innings to allow two runs on six hits, while Sam Boone and Muller Camden combined out of the bullpen to shut the ‘Cats down over the last 2.1 innings.

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Matt Lautz had a three hit day for the HarbourCats on Sunday boosting his average to .355 for the season (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

For Victoria, Wolger take the loss, giving up five earned runs on six hits over 1.2 innings of work. Mora, would pitch 4.1 innings of relief and give up five runs on six hits, while Ashworth went the final three innings, allowing his three runs on six Bend hits.

The HarbourCats and Bend conclude their series with a 6:35 PM game on Monday evening and then the HarbourCats hit the road for a three-game set against the seemingly improved Gresham GreyWolves, who have begun the second-half with a 4-0 record. That is followed by a rematch with these same Elks in beautiful Bend, Oregon on July 15-17th. Victoria returns home to face the always tough Bellingham Bells for a three-game set beginning on Wednesday, July 20th at 6:35 pm.

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Despite the team’s first loss at home, Victoria’s AJ Alcantara still had time to sign an autograph for a young fan (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Game Notes: After beginning the season with his own 13-game hitting streak, Brad Pluschkell was hitless in his last two games against Cowlitz and yesterday against Bend. He had a hit today to break his mini-slump. Heading into Saturday, HarbourCats pitching and defence had allowed just one run on nine hits over the last three games. With three hits in last night’s game and now enough at bats to qualify for consideration, Griffin Andreychuk now sits third in the WCL batting race with a .344 average. Jarron Silva sits in sixth at .333. Last season Andreychuk would have easily won the title but did not have enough at bats to qualify. Austin Dondanville now leads all WC pitchers with a miniscule 0.63 ERA. Will MCAffer (1.52) and Josh Mitchell (1.91) are also in the top 10.

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