HarbourCats Offence Kicks Into Gear to Salvage Win Against Bells

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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

July 22, 2016, Victoria, BC (ISN) – AJ Alcantara had four hits, including a first-inning, two-RBI single that kick started the Victoria HarbourCats to a 7-5 win over the Bellingham Bells in West Coast League (WCL) action Friday night in front of 1,918 fans at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria.

AJ Alcantara had a big night Friday with four hits and two RBIs to pace the HarbourCats offence (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The win salvages the final game of the three game set with the Bells following a 5-3 HarbourCats loss Wednesday and a heart-breaking 10-inning, 8-3 loss Thursday in a game that saw the HarbourCats and pitcher Will McAffer hold a 3-0 no-hit lead into the eighth inning.

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Bellingham’s Spencer Howard (left) and Victoria’s Ben Polshuk (right), roommates at Cal Poly, engage in a bit of pre-game rock-paper-scissors prior to Friday’s game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The HarbourCats would score three runs in the first, with Matt Lautz and Dakota Dean drawing back-to-back walks off Bellingham starter Joey Matulovich to lead things off. They were moved to third and second respectively on a sacrifice fly from Ben Polshuk and then came in to score on Alcantara’s first hit of the game.

Alcantara, who moved to second on the throw home on his hit, then scored on a Tommy Jew single and the ‘Cats held an early 3-0 lead.

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The ball eludes Bellingham catcher David Banuelos as Victoria’s Dakota Dean slides home with the HarbourCats second run of the game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Runs in the bottom of the second and bottom of the third then staked the HarbourCats to a 5-0 lead and that would be all starter Cameron would need, as he had his strongest outing of the season, going seven complete and allowing just a single run on four hits, just one walk, while striking out four.

Victoria would score two more runs in the bottom of the sixth, thanks to a two-RBI single from Joe Prior, his second hit of the night, scoring Brad Pluschkell (single) and Jarron Silva (walk).

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Tommy Jew would have a pair of hits and an RBI Friday in the 7-5 win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

They would then turn the ball over to HarbourCats newcomer Indigo Diaz, fresh from his season with the Coquitlam Reds of the BC Premier Baseball League, and he would give up a run to the Bells in the eighth and another in the ninth, before being replaced by Colin Ashworth with one out and runners on first and second.

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Cameron Schneider had his longest outing of the season, throwing seven innings and giving up a run on four hits while striking out four (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Ashworth would induce a pop out to first, but then give up a walk to load the bases for the Bells Landon Riker. Riker would then clear the bases with a double down the left field line and suddenly the Bells had closed the gap to 7-5.

That would bring in the HarbourCats closer Greg Casper and he would make things interesting by walking Strumpf and giving up an infield hit to David Banuelos to once again load the bases for the Bells. He would then bear down and strike out Danny Casals to end the game and give the ‘Cats the win.

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Joe Prior (8) tried to stretch one of his two hits into a double but was tagged out here by Bellingham’s Gunnar Schubert (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In addition to Alcantara’s big night and Prior’s two hits, Tommy Jew had a pair of hits, a walk, and an RBI, while Matt Lautz reached base five times with a hit and four walks, scoring twice.

For the Bells, Austin Shenton had a pair of hits, while Andru Cardenas scored twice. Riker, with three and Chase Strumpf, had the Bells RBIs.

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Bellingham Head Coach Mike Gange (right) lets third base umpire John Hollett (left) know he was not happy with a call made at third base during Friday’s game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The HarbourCats now hit the road to Corvallis, Oregon for a three-game set with the Knights beginning Saturday and then return home to RAP to host Walla Walla on Tuesday July 26th. Game time as usual for that one is 6:35 PM.

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