Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart
June 6, 2017, Victoria, BC – With a number of players making their home debut on Tuesday night, the 2017 Victoria HarbourCats are starting to round into shape and used contributions from a number of those new faces to defeat the Wenatchee AppleSox 6-2 in front of a crowd of just under 1,800 people in West Coast League action at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria.
Chief among those was starting left-handed pitcher AJ Block who gave up a run to the AppleSox in the very first inning, but then settled in for six full innings, giving up two runs in total on five hits, while striking out five and walking none. He also used a nasty pick-off move to eliminate a pair of runners from first base.
Also making a big contribution was outfielder Riley Zayicek, who jump started the HarbourCats offence with a two-run, opposite field home-run in the second inning, giving the ‘Cats a lead they would never relinquish.
Victoria scored another pair in the bottom of the third thanks to an RBI single from Kekai Rios, that scored Harry Shipley, and an RBI ground-out by Kevin Collard.
The AppleSox responded with another in the top of the fifth, but two more HarbourCats runs in the bottom of the sixth put the game out of reach.
Taylor Prokopis of Colorado Mesa University, fresh off an airplane from his home town of Salt Lake City, Utah, came in to relieve Block in the seventh, plunking the very first batter he faced, with the very first pitch he threw as a HarbourCat, but then settled in to pitch a pair of scoreless and hitless relief innings, striking out two and walking one. Travis Kuhn had a one-two-three ninth to close out the 6-2 win.
Offensively for the ‘Cats, in addition to Zayicek’s big blast, Ethan Lopez continued to swing a hot bat, stroking a pair of hits scoring a run. Rios, Cole Weiss and Justin Orton rounded out the HarbourCats six-hit attack.
Block takes the win, while Wenatchee starter Hugh Smith takes the loss. Victoria moves to 4-2 on the young season, while the AppleSox fall to 1-4.
Both teams are back at it in the rubber match of the series on Wednesday night with the HarbourCats sending 2016 returnee Colin Ashworth to the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 pm at Royal Athletic Park.