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HarbourCats bats bend the Elks for first series sweep of the year

Frankie Niemann quickly admires one of hits hits, before getting ready to sprint out of the box in yesterday’s game. (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)

Story by Josh Kozelj 

Photos by Christian J. Stewart

BOXSCORE

VICTORIA — The Victoria HarbourCats (9-5) used two seven-run innings to climb a season high four games over .500, and collect their first series sweep of the season with a 17-5 victory over the Bend Elks Wednesday afternoon on School Spirit day at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park.

School children and teachers packed the stands Wednesday afternoon at Wilson’s Group Stadium. (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)

In front of about 3,000 of school children and teachers at the annual spirit day, it was a Victorian and Lambrick Park high school alum Brendan Turcotte that got the start for the visiting Bend Elks. The HarbourCats put two men on with Turcotte pitching in the first, but the Victoria native avoided the jam by striking out Griffin Paxton to end the frame.

Brendan Turcotte pitches in the opening game of the series Monday night against Victoria. (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)

One inning later, the Elks tried to give some run support for their starter pitching in his hometown. Jason Bush led off the frame with a single, and after Chase Fernlund advanced him to second with a sacrifice bunt, Efry Cerventes smacked a double to left field for his first extra base hit of the season and gave Bend an early 1-0 advantage.

Showing gutsy resilience all day, Victoria would respond immediately in the home half of the inning as Matt Turner’s lead off homer in bottom of the second electrified the kids in attendance and levelled the game at one. Kyle Harper followed his teammate off with a single, and after Chase Meidroth walked to put two men on base, Nick Plaia grounded into a fielder’s choice to put Victoria ahead by one.

Nick Plaia (left) is congratulated by ex-HarbourCat Hunter Vansau (right) after Plaia’s third inning home run gave the HarbourCats a lead on July 18, 2018(Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

In the top half of the third, Bush gathered his second single of the game with a man on base that deadlocked the game once again. The Elks jumped ahead by two in the fourth with a two-run double from Dayton Provost, but Victoria would respond in a big way in the bottom half of the inning.

Jason Willow launched a three-run shot over the fence in left that put the HarbourCats back out front, and Frankie Niemann scored his teammate one batter later with an RBI double to make it a 6-4 game. Victoria added a pair of runs with the help of a Turner fielder’s choice and wild pitch, and Chase Meidroths’s two-out triple put an exclamation point on the seven-run inning—putting the HarbourCats ahead 9-4.

Jason Willow digs in and takes a look at the pitcher in the opening game of the series against Bend. (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)

Victoria added another run in the fifth, and Harper smacked his first homer as a HarbourCat in the sixth that put the game well out of reach. The victory temporarily gave the HarbourCats sole possession of first place in the WCL North division, as Victoria currently leads the Bellingham Bells —who play the second game of their series in Corvallis tonight—by half a game.

With the help of a high powered offence, Victoria has now won six of their past seven games and scored a total of 76 runs in that span.

The HarbourCats will look to bring the big bats on the road with them tomorrow, as they start a four game trip that begins in Yakima and concludes on Sunday in Portland.

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