Beyond the Fence: Vol. 6

Go beyond the fence with everything HarbourCats baseball in this column from Summer Intern Josh Kozelj. 

Photo provided by Christian J. Stewart  

Weekly Recap: July 9 – July 16

Season Record: 4-5 (Second Half) / 18-18 (Overall)

Week Record: 4-3

Welcome Back:

Happy Monday HarbourCats fans! With nine games already in the books, a third of the Second Half season has already been completed. The HarbourCats find themselves in the heat of a pennant race, which will make for some exciting baseball to be played at Wilson’s Group Stadium for the remainder of July. Catch up with latest instalment of BTF!

Players of the Week:

NOTE: All stats for player and pitcher’s of the week are collected from games played during July 9 – July 16 against the Corvallis Knights, Bend Elks, and Cowlitz Black Bears. 

Position Player of the Week: OF Jeddediah Fagg (Georgia Southern) – In his third Player of the Week nomination, the 2018 WCL All-Star proved his case with a dramatic three hit, and three RBI victory against Bend on July 10. Fagg’s 10th inning RBI single not only gave Victoria a comeback victory, but snapped a three game losing streak and propelled the HarbourCats to take four of their next six contests. The Georgia Southern native finished with eight hits and a homer in the week.

Co-Pitcher’s of the Week: RHP Garrett Goodall (Embry-Riddle) and RHP Mason Shaw (Yakima Valley College) – For the second straight week, Garrett Goodall gets recognition for Pitcher of the Week with a stellar outing July 14 against Cowlitz. Goodall, who will join Fagg at the 2018 WCL All-Star Game, posted his fourth straight quality start on the mound going six innings of one run ball. In six starts this season Goodall has not given up more than three runs, which only happened once, earning a sparkling 2.80 ERA for the season.

Not to be outdone by his counterpart in the rotation, Mason Shaw went five shutout innings in a July 11 victory over Bend for his second win of the season. It would be the second consecutive start where Shaw went five innings and not yielding a run, after going five strong against Bellingham earlier in July. The righty out of Yakima Valley also entered for an inning July 15 in Cowlitz, racking up two strikeouts in another shutout inning on the mound.

Knighted in Corvallis:

After dropping the first two games of the series in one run fashion both times, the HarbourCats ended their 2017 WCL Finals rematch with a blowout loss to the Knights at Goss Stadium. The HarbourCats were no-hit until by Lethbridge, Alberta native Landon Bourassa until the top of the fifth, and Victoria would be shutout 10-0 until there were two outs left in the ninth. Caleb Ricketts then proved to be the lone bright spot for the HarbourCats with a two run double to make the score a little friendlier before returning home for a date with the Elks.

Success against the Elks Part Two:

After taking two of three from the Elks in Bend back in June, the ‘Cats were hungry to pounce on the Elks after being swept in three games to Corvallis.

However, in the series opener Bend looked to be the hungrier team, scoring first in the opening inning and staging a furious rally in the games final frames. Victoria would take the lead in the fourth, and a Jedd Fagg homer gave the HarbourCats some insurance runs, but Bend would score twice in the final two innings to send the game into extras. From there Bend plated a run in the top of the 10th, but a resilient Victoria team responded in the home half loading the bases for Fagg who provided a walk-off single to snap the three game skid.

Game two proved to be less dramatic than the opener, and early in the first inning 2017 WCL All-Star and 2018 returnee Hunter Vansau made his presence smacking the very first pitch he saw in the first at-bat of the year over the fence for a solo shot. Vansau, a key member of Mississippi State’s run to the 2018 NCAA World Series semi-finals, would collect two more RBI on the night to bring his total to three in a 6-3 Victoria win.

Having already guaranteed a series victory, the HarbourCats couldn’t use that momentum to a sweep in a 8-6 finale loss to Bend. Victoria was playing from behind the whole game, never earning a lead at one point in the game, as the Elks seemed determined to escape Vancouver Island with at least one game in their pocket. Four different HarbourCat starters had a RBI on the night, including Vansau collecting a RBI in his second straight game, but a four run Elks seventh inning propelled Bend to salvage the series.

Interleague domaine in Cowlitz: 

In the second of back to back series against the bottom two teams in the WCL South division, the HarbourCats would not play down to their competition by taking two of three from the cellar dwelling Black Bears.

Victoria would strike first, and rally late to a comeback 4-3 victory over Cowlitz in game one. After both teams scored once in the first, the HarbourCats would take the lead for in the fifth with AJ Lewis RBI double, but yield two runs in the sixth to make it a tie game at three. However, Victoria would score a run in the seventh, and the bullpen would provide some stellar work on the mound for the HarbourCats third win in four games. Carter Loewen, Ping-Chun Ho, and Lawson Humphries would each combine to throw four scoreless innings to preserve the one-run Victoria lead in the game’s final four frames.

Game two saw the HarbourCats drawing first blood again, but having trouble to hold onto the lead in the final innings. After three scoreless innings, Hunter Vansau would hit his second homer of the week to give Victoria a 1-0 lead, and with Garrett Goodall fanning Black Bear hitters on the bump – collecting six strikeouts in yet another quality start. It looked like Victoria would cruise to their second straight win. However, Cowlitz would capitalize when Goodall exited in the sixth, scoring two runs in the final two innings, including a ninth inning two-out RBI single to send the game into extras. Unfazed by blowing the lead, Dustin Miller responded in the top half of the 10th with a RBI single of his own, and Nathan Walker would retire the Black Bears in the home half to give Victoria the series victory.

For the second straight series, going for the sweep against a South division cellar dweller, the HarbourCats couldn’t find momentum for a third straight victory in the finale. In a 13 inning marathon, the Black Bears would use a couple late inning rallies to a 6-5 victory over Victoria. Leading by three entering the eighth, Cowlitz tied the game with a three run homer, and took the game with a walk-off single in the 13th to avoid the sweep.

Thank You, Claire:

In a heartfelt press release from Assistant General Manager Christian J. Stewart, the HarbourCats bid farewell to lefty pitch Claire Eccles for Team Canada duties at the international level.

Becoming the first female pitcher to play in the history of the West Coast League in 2017, Eccles will leave Victoria after a home series next week against Corvallis in preparation to represent Canada in the Women’s World Cup in August.

“Claire’s time here has been a triumph for so many reasons, and she proved that the door is open for women to play this game at higher and higher levels, when given the opportunity by organizations with that open-minded approach,” said Jim Swanson, the Managing Partner of the HarbourCats.

“Not only did she get college players out, and some by strikeout, she awakened the hearts and minds of female players around the world. She did it with class and grace, even though Claire and our team were met with scorn from some old-fashioned and classless corners of society. Claire and the HarbourCats will forever be connected.”

Roster Update:

Hunter Vansau and Rowdey Jordan, both members of the Mississippi State Bulldogs who made the NCAA World Series set-finals this past year, joined Victoria this week. Vansau finished with five hits and two long-balls in four games, while his teammate collected two hits in three games for the HarbourCats.

Hey Now, You’re an All-Star: Pitchers Garrett Goodall and Tyler Yoshihara will join Infielder Jeddediah Fagg in the WCL All-Star Game in Port Angeles next week, as the three players were selected by Commissioner Rob Neyer and various WCL Head Coaches around the League.

Goodall sits third in the team with 20 strikeouts and two wins, while Yoshihara has collected a team leading three wins with 0.98 ERA this year. Fagg has racked up four homers, and 10 RBI in a breakout year the plate. The trio equals the number of All-Stars Victoria sent to the game last season, when Vansau, Indigo Diaz, and Adam McKillican all represented Victoria last year.

Pennant Race Update:

As the calendar flips from June to July, it means WCL teams will turn their attention to the Second Half Pennant race to secure postseason berths in the dog days of August.

Since the West Coast League is essentially broken down into two seasons, a first and second half, it means as the calendar approaches July teams will start to jockey for playoff positioning.

The 54 game schedule is broken down into two 27 game halves, with the first half coming to an end on July 4, teams that sit in first place in the North and South division after the first 27 games clinch a playoff spot — called the First Half division pennant winners.

Then the teams will reset their record at 0-0 for the second 27 games, and the two atop the division at the end of the second set of 27 games will own the Second Half division titles and spots in the WCL playoffs.

With 18 games left in the Second Half, all five teams in the North find themselves jostling for playoff positions, as nobody has separated from the pack in the first third of the schedule. Yakima Valley leads the way with a 7-2 record, but even last place Wentachee only sit 3.5 games behind the Pippins at 2-4.

Victoria is currently fourth, and three games behind the Pippins with three weeks left in the season.

On Deck: 

After the two day All-Star Break, Victoria will play host to a three game set against Corvallis at home from July 18-20. The HarbourCats will look for revenge after being swept last week by the Knights, before heading across the Strait of Juan de Fuca for a weekend series against Port Angeles to cap off the week.

That’s all for now! Enjoy your week Victoria, and come out to support your HarbourCats against Corvallis! For tickets visit our office located at 1814 Vancouver Street, call us at 778-265-0327, or purchase tickets online.

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