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North Divisional Playoff Preview // Victoria HarbourCats vs. Wenatchee AppleSox

Winners of the First and Second Half North division pennants, the Victoria HarbourCats will look to knock off the Wenatchee AppleSox and extend their record-breaking 2019 season by reaching the WCL Finals for the second time in franchise history. (Photo by Christian J. Stewart) 

The top two teams in the West Coast League’s North division, the Victoria HarbourCats (39-15) and Wenatchee AppleSox (29-25), will do battle this week in the best-of-three Divisional playoff round for the right to represent the North in the WCL Finals.

Capping off the regular season with eight consecutive victories—falling one win short of the franchise record of 40 set back in 2016—the ‘Cats are four wins away from capturing their first WCL championship, which would end a record breaking season with yet another franchise first.

The Victoria HarbourCats celebrating the WCL North Division First-Half Championship last month (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Record Breaking Offence 

Victoria broke nine all-time WCL records in 2019, three individual franchise records, and came close to setting a new attendance record off the field.

In the record breaking year, the HarbourCats offence became just the third team in WCL history to lead the league in five of the seven major offensive categories: runs, hits, home runs, RBI, and walks. Victoria was second in the other two categories (doubles and triples). Only two other teams—the 2010 Wenatchee AppleSox and 2011 Bend Elks—have replicated such a feat, and no team has led the league in five separate offensive categories since 2011 when the WCL expanded from nine to twelve teams.

New WCL Records:

2019 HarbourCats/Previous WCL record

Hits: 580/578
HR: 54/49
RBI: 339/310
Runs: 415/360
SLG: .440/.433
OPS: .830/.813
TB: 873/815
BB: 297/281
AB: 1986/1937
OBP: .390* tied

Parker Bramlett had 23 stolen bases on the year to break Nick Plaia’s old single season record of 19. (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)

New Individual Franchise Highs 

Nick Plaia and Parker Bramlett were two reasons why the HarbourCats had a record breaking season at the plate, as the duo combined to set three new single season or career records in 2019

Routinely batting near the top of the order each night, Plaia set a new HarbourCats record for walks in a season and Bramlett broke Plaia’s previous single season stolen base record set last summer. Not to be disturbed by his record be shattered by his teammate, Plaia stole 16 bases of his own this year to break Alex De Goti’s previous career franchise record of 34.

Although his single season stolen bases record was broken, Plaia broke two other HarbourCat franchise records in 2019: walks and career steals as a HarbourCat (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)

New Single Season Records

2019 Record/Old Record

Parker Bramlett— stolen bases: 23/19 (Nick Plaia, 2018)

Nick Plaia— walks: 37/28 (Griffin Andreychuk, 2014)

New Career Record

Nick Plaia— stolen bases: 35/34 (Alex De Goti, 2013-2015)

3, 573 HarbourCat fans packed the stands of Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park on a beautiful summer evening on July 20. (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)

Close Call

The HarbourCats also came close to setting another record this year, falling just under 200 people shy of setting a new WCL attendance record.

Victoria needed 2,457 fans in the regular season finale yesterday to break their own record from last year of 62,599, however, ended up drawing 2,258 fans to finish with 62,400 on the season—200 away from setting their third league record of the final weekend of the season.

Nick Plaia (left) is congratulated by Parker Bramlett (right) after scoring one of the North’s 14 runs in the All-Star game. (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Other Notable Season Stats

– Victoria’s six All-Stars (Parker Bramlett, Jason Willow, Frankie Niemann, Jack Hyde, and Tyson Hays) was the second most by a single team in 2019—trailing only the Corvallis Knights who had seven All-Star selections.

– The HarbourCats had five All-Star starters, however, which was the most by one team in 2019.

– The ‘Cats All-Stars combined for eight of the 20 total hits for the North All-Star team, and scored six of their 14 runs in the 14-1 blowout victory over the South All-Star team last month in Bend, Oregon.

– By scoring 21 runs against the Port Angeles Lefties on August 9th, the HarbourCats tied a franchise record for most runs in a single WCL game. Victoria also scored 21 runs in a 21-10 defeat of the Wenatchee AppleSox on August 2, 2015

– With a series sweep of the Lefties to end the regular season last weekend, the HarbourCats clinched both the First Half and Second Half division pennants in the same year for the first time in franchise history. In 2016, Victoria won the First Half title and tied Bellingham atop the Second Half standings.

The HarbourCats spill out of the dugout to congratulate Matt Turner after his walk off hit gave the HarbourCats a 5-4 victory over Wenatchee when they last met in June. (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)

Divisional Playoff Preview

The two teams that started the WCL regular season against each other back in June, are meeting over two months later in the first round of the playoffs.

While the HarbourCats are making their third playoff appearance in four seasons, the Wenatchee AppleSox are making their first postseason trip since 2013.

Wenatchee would go onto the WCL Finals that year, defeating the Walla Walla Sweets in the North Divisional round, but were swept by Corvallis in the championship series.

Following a disappointing First Half record in 2019 that saw the AppleSox finish under .500 at 12-15, Wenatchee rebounded in the Second Half by ending the year with a 17-10 record in the final 27 games of the regular season.

An eight game win streak from July 25 to August 8 helped propel the AppleSox to their first playoff appearance in six years, however, Wenatchee ended the season on a four-game skid—including losing three straight in Corvallis to the Knights over the final weekend of the regular season.

Victoria won five of six against Wenatchee in the regular season—outscoring the AppleSox 52-36 in that span— but the two teams haven’t faced off since June 27. Despite outscoring the AppleSox by 16 runs on the year, Victoria needed walk off hits in extra innings on consecutive days to knock off Wenatchee in their final two meetings of the year back on June 26 and 27.

Player to watch:

IF- Torin Montgomery: The first baseman from Boise State was a late addition to the AppleSox roster, making his debut on August 3, but has hit a pair of home runs and collected nine RBI in eight games. Montgomery ended the year by recording at least one hit in seven of eight games.

WATCH LIVE

Game one of the Divisional series will take place tomorrow night at Paul Thomas Sr. Field in Wenatchee, while the ‘Cats will host games two and three (if necessary) at Wilson’s Group Stadium in the best-of-three round on August 14 and 15.

First pitch for all playoff games are scheduled for 6:35p.m., and you can buy tickets for Victoria’s home games here.

(Graphic by Christian J. Stewart)

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