‘Cats head to All-Star break on sour note with loss to Pippins

Yakima exploded for a season high 22 hits in a 12-4 win to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Victoria HarbourCats. The ‘Cats will take a two day break with the All-Star game occurring next week, and will return to WCL action Thursday evening in Ridgefield (Photo by Christian J. Stewart).

Story by Josh Kozelj 

Photos by Christian J. Stewart 


VICTORIA — The Victoria HarbourCats (9-4/27-13) failed to earn their fourth home sweep of the season, as the Yakima Valley Pippins salvaged the weekend set with a 12-4 victory over the HarbourCats Sunday afternoon at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park.

After being outscored 26-3 in the first two games of the series, the Pippins outhit the HarbourCats 22-8 in the final game before the All-Star break for both teams. Victoria will send six players to Bend next week for the All-Star game, and local boy Jason Willow will represent the HarbourCats in the annual home run derby at Vince Genna Stadium.

Frankie Niemann will be one of the six HarbourCats in the All-Star game next week in Bend. The catcher scored a run, and totalled one walk and hit in the matinee. (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)

Mitch Lines got the nod on the hill, and received early run support in his third start of the season with the help of some fancy footwork from Harrison Spohn on the base path.

Spohn led off the HarbourCats half of the second with a single, and stole second one out later to advance into scoring position.

Kyle Sherick made a dazzling sliding catch in foul territory earlier in the afternoon against the Pippins. The outfielder from Seattle University also tallied three RBI later at the dish. (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)

Pippins starter Trystan Vrieling then got Spohn in a rundown with a pickoff through to second, though Spohn evaded the tag by faking running towards third and sprinting back to second to slide safely back into the base.

One batter later Spohn stole third with Kyle Sherick at the plate, and the outfielder from Seattle University brought Spohn home from third with a RBI double to give Victoria an early one run lead. The double was Sherick’s third RBI on the season and first extra base hit.

Eddy Pelc dives back to first base, as Chase Wehsener tries to snag the ball and tag out the Yakima outfielder. (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)

Although the HarbourCats drew first blood, the Pippins responded in the third.

Eddy Pelc and Luke Schwartz started the frame with back to back singles, and one out later Tanner Parker loaded the bases with the third single of the inning. Tanner Parker then stepped up to the plate and launched a sacrifice fly to deep centre field that levelled the game at one.

Tyler Petit stands over Luke Schwartz at the plate, preparing to tag out the Pippin centre fielder. (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)

After Victoria got the second out of the inning the Pippins tried a double steal, with Parker running for second and Schwartz simultaneously charging for home, but the ‘Cats gunned down Schwartz at home to keep the game tied at one.

One inning later, however, the Pippins began with back to back leadoff hits and got their first lead of the series with a two-run single from James Bell that ended Lines’ night. The righty didn’t allow a walk through three innings, but yielded the three earned runs.

Branson Wilson entered the game in the third, and didn’t allow a run in one inning of relief. (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)

Branson Wilson was summoned out of the bullpen, and the right hander retired the side in the fourth to keep Victoria within two runs.

Following a quiet fifth with the game still within reach, the Pippins exploded for seven runs in the sixth inning that effectively sealed the game. Yakima sent 12 men to the plate and racked up eight hits — two more hits than they had in the entire game last night — in the seven-run inning.

Victoria responded with a run in the home half of the sixth, and Sherick notched his second and third RBI of the game with a double off the wall in right, but it wouldn’t be enough to claw back against Yakima—who restored the eight run lead with a pair of runs in the ninth.

The loss dropped Victoria to 9-4 on the Second Half season, putting them a half  game ahead of the Wenatchee AppleSox (8-4) for first place in the North division. The HarbourCats will look to rebound following the All-Star break Thursday evening in Ridgefield against the Raptors, playing a two-game set, before returning home to face the Burnaby Bulldogs in a non-league game on Sunday July 28 in a non-league game.

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