Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart
July 16, 2017, Victoria, BC – There was plenty of offence for the 2,006 sun-drenched fans at Royal Athletic Park to enjoy on Sunday, as the Victoria HarbourCats and Burnaby Bulldogs combined for 37 hits and 34 runs in a 17-17 tie in the second of two West Coast League exhibition games between the two teams this weekend.
In a preview of the Baseball Canada Senior Men’s Nationals that will be held at Royal Athletic Park August 24-27th, the HarbourCats debuted a few pitchers looking to claim spots on the Victoria Mavericks host team for the Nationals including Kevin Pockett, Jason Gibson and Jacob Barnard and it was not a good night for any of them – except for Gibson, who pitched a rare scoreless inning – nor for any of the five HarbourCat regulars who saw action, as the Bulldogs put up runs in every inning but the first and fourth, including a five spot in the fifth off of Barnard that featured two mammoth home runs from the Bulldogs’ Geoff Ethresman and Justin Orton.
Not that the Bulldogs pitching fared any better, as Victoria jumped out to an early 8-2 lead on Burnaby starter Brandon Chernoff and ultimately got to him for 13 runs, including a three-run home run from Cole Weiss in the fifth, to keep the game tied a 13-13 after six innings of play.
Burnaby looked to have put the game away with a pair of runs in the seventh and another in the eighth to hold a 16-13 lead, but a four run eighth by the HarbourCats, highlighted by a three-run home run from former HarbourCat Griffin Andreychuk, put the ‘Cats up 17-16 heading to the ninth.
Victoria could not hold the lead however and Burnaby tied the game in the top of the ninth with a run off Taylor Prokopis, the HarbourCats eighth pitcher of the day and after the ‘Cats could not score in the bottom of the frame, the game was called simply because the HarbourCats had run out of available bodies to take to the mound for extra innings.
For Burnaby, Ethresman finished with four hits on the day with three RBIs and two runs scored, while Jaxon Valcke also had a three hit day with a pair of runs scored. Orton also had a pair of hits with four RBIs.
For Victoria, Jake Garella and Weiss finished with three hits each, with Weiss notching three RBIs. Andreychuk, Hunter Vansau and Harry Shipley added two hits each, while Kobe Morris, Tucker Johnson and Shane McGuire added a double, double and two-RBI triple respectively.
The majority of the HarbourCats now enjoy a two-day break, except for Hunter Vansau, Indigo Diaz, Adam McKillican, Jack Owen and Travis Kuhn, who are all headed to the 2017 West Coast League All-Star game in Yakima. Vansau will compete in the home run derby Monday night while all players will likely see action in Tuesday night’s game.
The team then resumes their regular season in Bellingham on Wednesday night where they open a crucial three-game North Division series with the Bells. Heading into Sunday night’s action, the HarbourCats and Wenatchee AppleSox are tied for first in the North Division second half race, while the Bells sit just 1.5 games back. The ‘Cats then head to Gresham for three starting Saturday, before returning home to face their Canadian rival Kelowna Falcons on Tuesday, July 25th. Game time for that at RAP is 6:35 pm.