Beyond the Fence: Volume 1

Go beyond the fence with everything HarbourCats baseball in this column from summer intern Josh Kozelj. 


When I first approached Managing Partner Jim Swanson, and Assistant General Manger Christian Stewart I was a little nervous about presenting my idea of writing a weekly column about the team.

It was something that hasn’t been done before in the six-year history of the HarbourCats, and like anything else in my life, I was scared to venture into something new. However, I wanted to bring my passion of writing, and baseball to you the fans.

You are the reason the players get up every morning, lift all those weights, and spend countless hours perfecting their pitching form or batting stance. You are the reason why our game day staff Dan Salmon (our PA announcer), Jason King (video producer), and David Marshall (music and sound) treat every home game like it’s their last to give you an unforgettable experience at the ballpark.

You are the reason why Christian, Jim, Brad Norris-Jones, John Pollard, Curtis Pelletier, Andy White, Andres Marquez, and so many other people behind the scenes work to put the best product of players on the field, and ensure that you will leave Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park with a smile on your face.

You are also the reason why I’m so lucky to work for the HarbourCats, and fulfill my lifelong dream of writing in the sports journalism industry.

Ever since I was a child in grade three, I would sprint to my front door and grab The Province newspaper to read the sports section. I idolized beat writers, Tony Gallagher, Lowell Ullrich, Ben Kuzma, and dreamed of one day seeing my name in the by-line of a sports header.

Now, twelve years later, thanks to you and guidance from Jim and Christian, I get to live out that dream.

In this column, I will write a recap every Monday morning (today on a Wednesday) about the latest news on the HarbourCats, series highlights, preview their upcoming games, and talk about all things WCL.

I hope you are as excited as I am for this sixth season of HarbourCats baseball, and that you enjoy reading this column every Monday morning.

FIRST WEEK: The Victoria HarbourCats finished their first week of WCL regular season baseball at 4-3, dropping the opening series against the Wenatchee AppleSox, but bouncing back to take two of three from the Yakima Valley Pippins.

STARTER DOMINANCE: The starting pitching for the ‘Cats played huge dividends in their three wins early on. In each of the victories, the starter went at least four innings, with only allowing a single earned run.

HELP FROM ABROAD: As HarbourCats down south wrap up their collegiate season, Victoria’s roster is getting a boost of talent from NCAA level players. Adam Imwalle of State of Florida College started at shortstop, and collected three RBI in his first game. While Harrison Spohn and Nick Plaia, both of Cal Baptist, also started in the field and Lawson Humphries, Trevin Reynolds,andCade Brownwere also called up to the Island last week

Plaia made an immediate impact to his new team, hitting for .429 early on, including a three-hit performance highlighted by a ‘little league home run’ in last Thursday’s school spirit game.

NATE PECOTA SHOW: In a 13-7 10 inning victory on June 12 against the Kelowna Falcons, outfielder Nate Pecota demolished Falcon pitching for three hits, including a grand slam home run, four runs, six RBI, and two stolen bases.

PROMOTIONS: Kelly Gruber, a star of the 1992 Toronto Blue Jays World Series team, was an honorary coach for the HarbourCats weekend series vs. the Coquitlam Angles.

While Claire Eccles didn’t disappoint on her bobble head day on June 10. Eccles, the first woman to play in the WCL last season, made her first pitching appearance this season on her bobble head day to a raucous ovation from the crowd. 

AROUND THE WCL: The Yakima Valley Pippins, who just joined the WCL North division in 2018, didn’t let losing two of three to the HarbourCats last week stop them from sitting atop the North division.

With most of their players taking part in the NCAA College World Series this month, the ‘Cats have managed to secure a second-place tie with the Port Angeles Lefties. Entering play on June 13, the Pippins held a .5 game lead over the HarbourCats and Port Angeles Lefties.

In the WCL playoff format, postseason teams are determined by winning a first-half pennant (having the best record in the first half of the season from June to July), and a second-half pennant (rest of July to August). So, the ‘Cats will have two chances to grab a division title, and should be well loaded for a second half playoff push when regular players return from their NCAA play.

ON DECK: This week brings the first road trip of the season for the HarbourCats, as they will travel to Kelowna for a mid-week series against their Canadian rivals.

So far, this season the Falcons have been a disappointment, staggering out to a 2-5 record, but starting pitcher Cal Hehnke has been a brightspot from the team from the interior.

Hehnke, from Grand Island, New England, has racked up 18 strikeouts in his two starts this season. One of which was a win, and another a no-decision. Thankfully, it looks like the HarbourCats might avoid the right-hander in this series, as Henke isn’t scheduled as one of the probable starters for Kelowna.

After that three-game set, the HarbourCats will return to the Island for a weekend series against the Port Angeles Lefties. The Lefties, who got off to a blistering 6-2 start before losing their last two, will look to take down their Strait of Juan de Fuca rivals in a series which commences play Friday at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park.

That’s all for now, enjoy the rest of your week, and I hope to see you at the park!

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