HarbourCats Scratch Back for 11-Inning Walk-Off Over Elks

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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

July 11, 2016, Victoria, BC (ISN) – A Cameron Cannon single in the bottom of the 11th inning scored Dakota Dean from third base and gave the Victoria HarbourCats a dramatic, come from behind 6-5 win over the Bend Elks in West Coast League (WCL) action Monday night at Royal Athletic Park (RAP) in Victoria.

Victoria’s Cameron Cannon (33) reaches out to stroke a single to left that drove in the winning run Monday in the bottom of the 11th inning, giving the HarbourCats the 6-5 win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The win avenges the HarbourCats 15-8 defeat at the hands of the Elks Sunday – only their fifth loss of the season – and gives the HarbourCats the rubber match of the series, one which just may have been a great precursor to a possible WCL Championship series in August.

The HarbourCats got out of the gate early in this one as a Joe Prior single in the bottom of the first off Bend starter Tate Budnick scored Ben Polshuk (hit by pitch) to give the HarbourCats a 1-0 lead.

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Joe Prior got the Victoria offence started early with an RBI single in the bottom of the first inning (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Elks would respond off Victoria starter Cameron Schneider in the top of the second, tying it up on the strength of a Jared Gonzales double and a Jack Fisher single and then take the lead in the top of the fourth when Elks slugger Patrick Flynn would get his third home-run of the series, a solo-shot to left-centre.

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Cameron Schneider would make his second start of the season for Victoria, going 4.2 innings and giving up five Bend runs on nine hits while striking out four (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

After that Schneider would pitch his way out of a bases loaded jam to end the inning, but he would not be so lucky in the fifth, giving up a run on a triple and a single, before eventually issuing a bases-loaded walk to give Bend a 4-1 lead. That would be it for Schneider and he would be replaced by left-hander Josh Mitchell. Mitchell would walk the first batter he faced to force in another run and make it 5-1 before getting out of the inning without any more damage.

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Victoria first baseman Ben Polshuk makes a flip to the pitcher covering first on this play in Monday’s game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The ‘Cats would then begin to claw their way back in the bottom of the frame when Austin Guibor would walk to lead things off and PJ Floyd would follow with a two-run shot over the right field fence to make it 5-3. They would then tie it in the bottom of the sixth, thanks to RBI singles from Jake Stone and AJ Alcantara that scored Ben Polshuk (single) and Joe Prior (single) respectively.

The ‘Cats had a chance for much more in the inning, as following their two runs, they had the bases loaded with nobody out, but Bend reliever Nate Hunter would strike out two and the induce a ground ball to first to get out of the inning with the score tied 5-5.

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PJ Floyd launches his first home run of the season, a 2-run shot in the bottom of the fifth that got the HarbourCats back into the game after going down 5-1 (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The bullpen would take it from there with Josh Mitchell, Will McAffer and Holden Lyons holding the fort for the ‘Cats while Sam Boone would do the same for the Elks into the 10th. After Lyons worked a very quick top of the 11th, retiring the side on just five pitches, the Elks would go to Michael Warnick on the hill and he would promptly give up a lead-off single to Dakota Dean, who had entered the game in the eighth.

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THe Elks Patrick Flynn was at his monster best Monday, cracking another home-run, his third of the series, in the fourth inning Monday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Austin Guibor then went to move Dean to second with a sacrifice bunt, but an error by Elks catcher Louis Wolf sent the ball bouncing off Guibor and into foul territory past first, moving Dean to third and Guibor to second. After Floyd was intentionally walked to load the bases, Cannon reached out for a 2-2 pitch and stroked it over the drawn-in infield to left, scoring Dean and giving the HarbourCats their 25th win of the season and second of the second half and sending what remained of the 1,748 in attendance home happy.

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Cameron Cannon also had a solid game at shortstop Monday, making a nice throw on this play for a ground ball out (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Cannon’s heroics aside, the ‘Cats were led offensively by Floyd with a pair of hits, including the home run and two RBIs. Prior also had a pair of hits and an RBI while Polshuk had a hit and two runs scored. Also of note was a hit by Griffin Andreychuk which extends his league leading on-base streak to 22 games.

For the Elks, Jared Gonzales and Zach Moeller were on fire, with four and three hits respectively. Moeller also added a pair of RBIs, while Billy King had a two-hit evening in the losing effort.

On the hill, Lyons takes the win in relief for Victoria, throwing four innings of one-hit baseball, while Warnick takes the loss in relief for the Elks.

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With a base hit Monday, Griffin Andreychuk extended his WCL leading 22-game on base streak (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The HarbourCats now hit the road for a three-game set against the seemingly improved Gresham GreyWolves, who have begun the second-half with a 5-1 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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The HarbourCats celebrate their 6-5 walk-off win Monday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Game Notes: The 15 runs given up by the HarbourCats Sunday were the most the team has surrendered since a June 12, 2015 24-5 loss, also to the Elks. Previous to that the ‘Cats had only given up 15 runs or more two other times, both coming in their first season of play. The HarbourCats continue to lead the league at the box office, averaging 2,263 fans per game.

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