Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
August 5, 2017, Port Angeles, WA – The Victoria HarbourCats headed across the Strait of Juan de Fuca Saturday to begin their final, crucial, two-game regular season series with the Port Angeles Lefties and did their job, coming away with a 6-4 win over the Lefties at Civic Field in Port Angeles.
The win keeps the HarbourCats just a half-game ahead of the Wenatchee AppleSox in the battle for the West Coast League North Division title, as the AppleSox also won Saturday, thumping the Bellingham Bells 11-1.
The AppleSox win eliminates the Bells from a chance to win the Division, as Bellingham needed to sweep that series to have any chance and now sets up a number of possible scenarios between Wenatchee and the HarbourCats for the title.
In its simplest form, a Victoria win Sunday and a Wenatchee loss means the HarbourCats would clinch the title and the AppleSox would not need to play the Monday makeup game with Corvallis (unless it needs to be played to decide the South Division winner).
Should the HarbourCats lose Sunday and Wenatchee wins, then the AppleSox would clinch the title and would not need to play the Monday makeup game with Corvallis (again unless it needs to be played to decide the South Division winner).
In the case of either a Victoria win AND Wenatchee win, or a Victoria loss AND a Wenatchee loss Sunday, the AppleSox would then need to play the makeup game with Corvallis on Monday. If they win that, they win the Division, if they lose that, the HarbourCats would win the Division.
All of these scenarios were far from the minds of Victoria starter Blake Hannah and the HarbourCats when they stepped on the field Saturday in Port Angeles and they threatened early, getting a leadoff walk from Harry Shipley and single from Hunter Vansau to begin the game, but failed to score, as Lefties starter Tim Reynolds worked himself out of trouble.
The Lefties would use that defensive momentum to get a run of their own in the bottom of the frame, as Jordan Ackerman and Brian Hill set the table with back-to-back singles to begin for the Lefties, with Ackerman then coming in to score on a Michael Ciancio single.
Ackerman, a former HarbourCat who played briefly for the team in 2016, would haunt his old team again in the second inning, slicing an RBI double down the first base line to score Thomas Martin who had reached earlier on a two-out single, putting the Lefties up 2-0.
Victoria would finally get to Reynolds in the third inning, as Tucker Johnson would lash an RBI-single to score Vansau, who had earlier singled, and Kevin Collard would smash a two-RBI double to score Johnson and Andrew Shaps who had walked. A single from Harrison Bragg would then score Collard and the ‘Cats were up 4-2.
The Lefties would not give in however and in the bottom of that same frame, after a mammoth home run from Aki Buckson well over the left field fence, Ciancio would double and then come in to score on a Mitchell Hagan groundout, tying the game 4-4.
Victoria would take the lead for good in the fourth inning, as DJ Porter would lead things off with a double, be moved to third on a Shipley single and then score on a Vansau sacrifice fly.
It would then be left to the HarbourCats bullpen including Taylor Prokopis in the fifth, Adam McKillican in the sixth and Cole Masik and Dylan Thorp in the seventh to hold the lefties scoreless for the next three innings.
The HarbourCats would then score an insurance run in the top of the eighth, on a Shaps RBI single that scored Porter and then hand it off to Garrison Ritter who would retire the Lefties in order in both the eighth and ninth innings to close out the 6-4 win.
For the ‘Cats, Collard led the way offensively with three hits including a double and two RBIs, while Vansau, Shaps, Bragg and Porter had two hits each, including doubles from Bragg and Porter.
For the Lefties, Ackerman, Buckson, Ciancio and Thomas Martin all had two hit nights. Former HabourCat Nick Bellafronto also added a double in the losing effort.
On the hill, Victoria’s Taylor Prokopis gets credit for the win to move to 5-2 on the season while Ritter earns his second save of the season. Reynolds takes the loss for Port Angeles, giving up five runs on nine hits, while walking three and striking out three over 3.2 innings of work.
The HarbourCats and Lefties complete their regular seasons with a matinee on Sunday with the Cats sending Matt Kent to the mound. Game time at Civic Field is 1:00 PM.