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Corvallis Uses Offensive Explosion to Dampen HarbourCats Faith

Corvallis’s Dillan Shrum (31) is congratulated after hitting a two-run home run in the first inning of the Knights’ 12-4 win over Victoria Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart

June 21, 2017, Victoria, BC – It was Faith Night at Royal Athletic Park Wednesday night, but clearly, whatever supreme being the HarbourCats and their 1,267 fans in attendance believe in was on the side of the Corvallis Knights, as the Knights used a 14-hit attack, including two home runs, to thump the HarbourCats 12-4 in West Coast League (WCL) action in Victoria.

The HarbourCats sent Victoria native and former Victoria Eagle Ethan Skuija to the mound, making a spot start in the place of an under-the-weather Isaac Mullins, who was originally slated to get the ball Wednesday night.

Knight’s starter Jordan Horak would give up three runs on eight hits while striking out eight to earn the win Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Skuija started well, striking out the first two batters he faced, but then was touched for a double from Jordan Qsar and a two-run home-run from Dillan Shrum and the Knights were off on an early 2-0 lead.

The HarbourCats would get one of those runs back in the bottom of the inning thanks to a Davis Wendzel RBI-single that scored Harry Shipley, but single runs from the Knights in the second and eight more off a less than stellar HarbourCats bullpen in the fourth through sixth innings – a complete reversal from Tuesday night’s performance – put the game out of reach.

A rare run that the Knights did not score Wednesday was when Chad Stevens was tagged out by HarbourCats catcher Riley Guntrip on this play at the plate (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The Knights offensive attack was led by Shrum who finished the night with two hits, including his home-run, three RBIs and three runs scored.  Troy Claunch also had a big night with a solo home-run off Skuija in the second, a single, two RBIs and two runs scored. Matt Kelly, Taylor Travess and Chad Stevens also had two hit evenings with Kelly cashing in 3-RBIs.

The HarbourCats did manage to pound out 11 hits of their own Wednesday, three of which came from Wendzel, but they could not muster any big hits when needed, leaving 10 on base in total in the loss.

Davis Wendzel provided a lone bright spot for the Victoria offence with three hits an RBI on Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

On the mound, the Knight’s Jordan Horak took the win, going 5.2 innings and giving up three runs on eight hits, while walking one and striking out six.  Jacob Fricke, Cameron Richman and Hazahel Quijada cleaned up in relief.

Skuija takes the loss for Victoria, giving up three runs on four hits, while walking two and striking out two in just two innings of work.  Isaac Mullins did come on in relief, for two innings of work, while Matt Kent, Blake Hannah, Radd Thomas and Liam Steigerwald also saw action on the hill.

The win improves the Knights record to 11-6 and keeps them comfortably in first place in the South Division with a three game lead over Bend.  The HarbourCats drop back to .500 on the season at 9-9 and are three games behind Kelowna, who defeated Bellingham 6-5 Wednesday to move into first in the North Division.

It was just one of those nights for Victoria, as HarbourCats shortstop Harry Shipley has trouble coming up with an errant throw from first baseman Pao-Hao Huang on a steal attempt during Wednesday’s game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The teams will play their rubber match in the series on Thursday night in another 6:35 pm start.  Luke Boyd will get ball for Victoria, while the Knights will respond with Trenton Toplikar.  The HarbourCats then welcome the Walla Walla Sweets to town Friday for our first full weekend series of the year.

Cat Scratches:  Shane McGuire, a left-handed hitting catcher / third baseman from Kent, Washington, arrived in town Wednesday and pinch hit late in the game. Former HarbourCat and Victoria Eagle Tyson Abbott was on hand as an emergency backup catcher for Corvallis on Wednesday, replacing Jace Duty who was injured in Tuesday night’s game.

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