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Saum stymies HarbourCats in game one of WCLDS

Coming out of the bullpen Tyler Hilton (pictured above), and Mikey Callia proved to be two of the bright spots in Victoria’s 5-1 loss to the Wenatchee AppleSox to kick off the 2019 WCL playoffs. The duo allowed just three hits, and no runs in over four innings of work. (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)

BOXSCORE

WENATCHEE, Wash. — The Victoria HarbourCats will hope returning to Wilson’s Group Stadium will help them avoid being ousted from the 2019 WCL playoffs, after dropping game one of the best-of-three North Divisional series 5-1 to the Wenatchee AppleSox Tuesday evening.

The HarbourCats finished the season 20-7 at home this year, and haven’t lost two games in a row since dropping two straight to Yakima Valley and Ridgefield on July 21 and 25. Victoria also hasn’t lost more than two in a row all season, and have done so only four times in 2019.

Despite being being the higher seed in the Divisional round, Victoria started the series on the road in Washington State and fell victim to one of the hottest pitchers in the WCL.

Incoming UCLA freshman Jake Saum finished the regular season with a 2.80 ERA, and allowed just four runs in his last three starts—highlighted an eight inning, four-hit, outing in a 5-0 win over the Ridgefield Raptors in his last appearance on August 7.

Saum tied a season high with 10 strikeouts on the hill, and held the HarbourCats scoreless through seven dominant innings tonight. The righty from Port Hueneme, CA allowed just four hits, and retired 15 of 16 HarbourCat batters from the third in the seventh inning in his eighth start of the summer.

Gus Wilson began the game by hustling a one out infield single in the top half of the first, and stole second a few pitchers later to advance into scoring position for 2019 Player of the Year Griffin Paxton. Saum, however, retired Paxton and Harrison Spohn to end the HarbourCat threat and received some offence from his teammates in the ensuing innings.

Wenatchee began the home half of the first by putting two men on base with no outs, and loaded the bases one out later after Torin Montgomery was hit by a pitch. Victoria starter Dakota Hawkins then walked Brett Gillis with the bases loaded to give Wenatchee an early one run advantage.

Hawkins, though, showed great composure by inducing an inning ending double play one batter later to keep the score at 1-0.

The HarbourCats couldn’t muster any support for their starter, as Ty Schindel was stranded at second after a two out double in the second. Victoria wouldn’t record another hit until the fifth, when Tanner Haney led off the frame with a single, but Saum would retire the next three batters consecutive batters to keep the ‘Cats scoreless.

Wenatchee, meanwhile, added another run in the third courtesy of a sacrifice fly, and exploded for three runs in the fifth to increase their lead to five. Tanner Smith and Jermaine Ducham had a pair of RBI base hits in the three-run fifth.

The HarbourCat bullpen proved to be a bright spot in the loss, as Tyler Hilton—who entered in the fourth—and Mikey Callia combined to allow just two hits and no runs to the AppleSox over the final four plus innings.

Brett Gillis, who started the game at third base, moved to the mound to begin the eighth and took over the pitching duties from Saum. The two-way University of Portland product had a 1-2-3 eighth inning, and retired the first two HarbourCats to start the ninth, before the Victoria bats finally came alive.

Paxton extended the game with a two out double, and Spohn smacked a double of his own to score Paxton and get the ‘Cats on the board. However, Gillis retired Kyle Sherick one batter later to end the game seal the series opening victory for AppleSox.

Victoria will look to avoid elimination in game two of the WCLDS tomorrow evening, first pitch is scheduled for 6:35p.m.

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