Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart
June 12, 2017, Victoria, BC – The Victoria HarbourCats and Port Angeles Lefties went at it in round two of the Battle of the Strait of Juan deFuca on Monday night and it was the HarbourCats who struck the winning salvo once again, with a 4-1 win over the Lefties in West Coast League Action at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria.
The win was the second of the season for the ‘Cats over the Lefties, after they took the opening game of the season by a score of 11-2 in Port Angeles on June 1.
The game was a lot closer than it probably should have been, as the HarbourCats Cats had assembled eight hits off Port Angeles starter Keiran Shaw through first four innings, but managed just a single run in the second – an RBI single from Bryce Bonner that scored Ethan Lopez – and the Lefties used some good early defence, turning double plays in the second and third and cutting another runner down at the plate in the fourth, to keep the score 1-0.
The ‘Cats added another run in the seventh on a Kevin Collard sacrifice fly that scored Harry Shipley, but the Lefties would answer that in the top of the eighth when an RBI double from Mitchell Hagan off ‘Cats reliever Travis Kuhn scored Kevin Kendall to keep the deficit at just one.
What chance the Lefties had to pull the win out of the bag disappeared in the bottom of the eighth, as Lefties reliever Jared Welander hit Kekai Rios to begin the inning and then after a pair of strikeouts, walked the bases loaded and then gave up a walk to Will LaRue and hit Harry Shipley to give the HarbourCats two more big insurance runs.
Kuhn then came on for the ninth and closed out the 4-1 win.
AJ Block gets the win for the HarbourCats, his second of the season, as he had another strong outing, going five innings and giving up no runs on just one hit while striking out four. Taylor Prokopis came on in relief in the sixth and pitched two scoreless innings to set things up for Kuhn, who earns the save.
Offensively, Cole Weiss led the way with a three-hit evening, while Collard and Bonner chipped in two hits and an RBI each. Shipley also added a hit and an RBI.
The win moves the HarbourCats record to 6-5 on the season and into a three-way tie for first in the extremely tight North Division with the Kelowna Falcons and Wenatchee AppleSox. The Lefties fall to 5-6 and sit one game back of the Division lead.
The teams return to action at Royal Athletic Park on Tuesday night to complete the short, two-game home stand for the HarbourCats. Victoria then hits the road to Walla Walla, Washington on Wednesday for a three-game set against the Sweets. They return home on Father’s Day, Sunday June 18 where they will play a non-league double-header against the Kitsap Blue Jackets beginning at 12:35. Lefty knuckleballer Claire Eccles is slated to start the first game on Sunday, so be sure to get your tickets early to come see her make her first official start of the season.
Cat Scratches: The HarbourCats welcomed eight new players on Monday (Jack Tagget, Jack Owen, Andrew Vaughn, Tanner Rempel, Tucker Johnson, Sam Cachola, DJ Porter and Will LaRue) and with two more arriving Tuesday (Nick Bellafronto and Matt Kent), a few 10-day players are saying their goodbyes to make space on the roster. This includes, Kyle McComb, Justin Orton and Tyson Abbott, as well as 2016 returnee Colin Ashworth who has headed home due to a shoulder injury.